If you are facing criminal charges, you may be wondering if you should hire a criminal defense attorney. Attorneys can be expensive, and it is understandable if you do not want to commit to hiring one without being certain that you really need their services.
This guide will explain when you really need to hire a criminal defense attorney, and provide some advice and instruction to make the process easier for you.
Have You Recently Been Arrested?
If you have been arrested recently, one of the best and smartest things you can do for yourself is to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. No matter how knowledgeable you may be, an attorney has much more knowledge of, and experience in, the legal processes that follow an arrest. They can help you navigate that process in the way that leads to the best possible results for you.
The sooner you consult with an attorney, the better your chances will be of avoiding costly mistakes. They may even be able to negotiate a dismissal before any charges are brought against you. They can protect and negotiate for your rights immediately after your arrest, and give the best chance of avoiding the worst consequences.
Have You Been Charged With Committing a Crime?
If you have already been charged, you must hire a criminal defense attorney. While public defenders are good, smart attorneys who genuinely want to help you, they are universally overworked. So many people rely on public defenders rather than hiring an attorney that they never have enough time to devote to their cases.
A public defender will try their best to help you, but they do not have the time or the energy. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to go. An experienced attorney is exactly who you want fighting for you in court. They know the law, and they know how to negotiate for you. Most importantly, they will remain calm and sensible in situations that are highly emotional.
Hiring an Experienced Attorney
An attorney with at least ten years of experience is the best way to go. Such an attorney will have a lot of experience with jury trials, and they will be familiar with most prosecutors and judges in the area. That relationship with prosecutors and judges is essential, since it improves their ability to negotiate a good outcome for you. Experienced attorneys may be more expensive, but they are certainly worth it.
They have also likely defended clients accused of the same crimes you have been accused of. They know the best way to defend you in this situation, and they also know how to assess the behavior of law enforcement in your case.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You do not want to hire the first attorney whose fee looks reasonable. You want to find the best possible attorney to defend you. That means that you should come to every meeting prepared to ask these questions.
Background and Experience
You want to learn as much as possible about the lawyer’s background and experience. These are good questions to ask:
- Where did you attend law school and what year did you graduate?
- How long have you been practicing criminal law?
- How often do you appear in the courthouse in which my case is being handled?
- How often do you negotiate plea agreements?
- What sort of relationship do you have with the prosecutor?
- How often do your clients go to trial?
- How much experience do you have in cases with charges like mine?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
Assessment of Your Case
You also want to hear the attorney’s assessment of your case. In particular, you want to ask them:
- What are my legal options, and what would you recommend?
- What about my case works in my favor?
- What problems do you see with my case?
- What can I expect during this process?
This refers to the logistics of how each case is handled. You want to know what is happening behind the scenes with your case, so here are some good questions to ask.
- Are you available to represent me?
- Will there be anyone else working on my case, and if so, may I meet them?
- Will you personally be representing me in court?
- Who do I call if I have any questions?
You definitely want to know what the fees are going to be up front. Shopping around is a good idea, as you may find a better rate. Just remember that lawyers and firms with good reputations are going to charge more, but they might be worth it.
- Do you charge an hourly rate or a flat fee?
- If you charge by the hour, what is the rate and is there a retainer fee?
- If you charge a flat fee, what is it and what does it cover? Does it have to be paid in full up front?
- What other expenses do I have to pay outside of your fee?
If you have any more questions, or if you would like to speak to a criminal defense attorney, contact the Brown Firm today.