How to Choose and Hire the Best Criminal Defense Attorney
When you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney to defend you, the process of searching for and picking the right one can get quite complex if you don’t know how to go about it. While most attorneys are good at their job, you want the best attorney to handle your case if you’ve been charged with a criminal offense.
Here are some tips that will help you choose the right attorney to represent you:
- Specialization – Many defense attorneys handle a variety of criminal cases, but you should look for one who has experience with the kind of charges you are facing. Just like going to an orthodontist for braces (instead of a GP), you need someone with extensive expertise at dealing with homicide, DUI charges or whatever else your case is, if you want the best results.
- Practice Area – The attorney you hire should also have experience fighting cases in the court where you will be tried. If your case is being tried in a county or district court, any licensed attorney can handle the case, but if your case is to be tried as a federal crime, your attorney will need to have experience and a special license for the federal court system. It also helps if you hire someone who practices locally and is familiar with the judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals in the area.
- Background – Before you hire a certain attorney, you may want to check into their history (on the Internet or through a attorneys association in the area). If they have a record of successful wins or reduced sentences for clients they’ve represented in the past, you can feel more secure with them representing you. A little research, time and effort will also help you weed out any untrustworthy firms or attorneys, since you can look into client complaints or feedback for past cases.
- Consultation – Reliable and experienced attorneys will offer to meet and discuss your case before they make any promises about what to expect from them. Since the details of every case are different and no one can guarantee an outcome without at least looking at them, be wary of attorneys who promise they can get your charge dismissed or a case tried in your favor before they’ve even heard the details!
- Fees and Charges – Many defense attorneys offer a free consultation so they can review your case and then give you a realistic figure of what you could expect to pay. The cost of fighting a case can indeed be very high, but hiring a good attorney could save you a lot more than you would spend on legal costs, settlements and penalties if you tried to defend yourself and were unsuccessful, or hired someone incompetent because they were ‘cheap’.
- Changing attorneys – If at some point during the investigation or trial you feel that things are not working with your current legal counsel, you should not face any trouble when you choose to replace them. Most attorneys take a down payment or retainer, which (depending on your fee agreement) may not be refundable if you fire them, but you should be handed your case files and other documentation right away, without any complications or delays.
Remember, with the best attorney handling your case, you could find yourself reaching a dismissal, reasonable settlement, reduced plea bargain or even a win. In case of a settlement in your favor, you will recover the money you spend on the case and possibly even more!