Step By Step Guide On What to Check While Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you find yourself or a loved one on the wrong side of law, the first thing you need to do is hire a criminal defense attorney. There will be numerous ‘hows’ that will intimidate you which is why we are here to help you with a step-by-step guide on what to check while hiring a criminal defense attorney.
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The process of hiring an attorney who defend criminal charges can be divided into 2 parts:
Knowing the kind of attorney you need
- Determining if you need a defense attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, you should know exactly what it means and what defenses are available for you. Understanding the charges will help you evaluate plea bargains that are offered to you and how to handle the situation if you are convicted. If the charges are minor, you may just consult with an attorney but it is highly advisable to have a defense attorney by your side if the charges are serious instead of just consulting.
- Understanding what defense attorney do
Defense attorneys represent people charged with criminal conduct or have lawsuits against them. They often know the involved prosecutors, which greatly helps as the case builds. They probably have handled similar cases and know their defenses around similar charges, they can get concessions that other attorneys may not consider and they identify key pre-trial issues and motions that may significantly help your case and even get it dismissed.
- Knowing the kind of defense attorney you need
Based upon whether you are faced with state or federal criminal charges, you will have to hire those specializing in state or federal law. The former include traffic violations, family disputes, broken contracts, robberies etc., whereas federal charges include all those cases that involve violation to the US constitution where United States is a party. They also include patent cases, bankruptcy etc. It is crucial to hire reputed, highly experienced federal attorneys to represent one in case of federal criminal charges as they are complex and the prosecution is much stronger than a state case.
- Opting the one who specializes in the area of defense you need
There are defense attorneys who focus on specific area of defense such as violent crimes, against rape charges and the like. It is crucial that attorneys spend considerable time understanding your case well and are willing to put in adequate time into it. Attorneys with specializations have the ability to deal with the case better and defend it in specific courts, whether it’s at a trial stage or in appellate courts.
- Understanding the difference between public defender and defense attorney
When people cannot afford to hire private attorneys, they are assigned public defenders to represent them.While both work towards defending you against criminal charges, the difference lies in the fact that public defenders are assigned to numerous cases at once and will have little time to focus on one particular case at any point of time, unintentionally jeopardizing some cases by missing crucial facts. On the other hand, defense attorneys tend to take one case at a time and focus entirely on a case, thus elevating the success rate.The defendants should do their research well, check educational and professional credentials, and determine the kind of qualities they want in their attorneys. Shortlist those who have excellent negotiation, communication skills, great track records and the like before finalizing an attorney.
Finding a Defense Attorney
The following steps will help you select an attorney to defend you against criminal charges, after you have shortlisted some.
- Explore all the waysGet in touch with professional organizations, directories or web searches; meet attorneys through referrals or approach one after observing their courtroom case. Go meet someone who’s good reputation precedes them and discuss your case personally. You can also go to the State Bar Website and look for Certified Criminal Law Specialist in your country. Regardless of what method you choose, ensure that you choose to work with the one who promises the best results for you.
- The cost of hiring oneDifferent attorneys have different ways of charging for a case. While it mostly depends on how complex a case, attorneys usually charge a hirer retainer followed by hourly rates or flat fees. Some offer a hybrid fee agreement that offers refundable minimum retainers but go up as the case goes past that amount. Keep in mind that contingency fee arrangements are unethical for defense attorneys. Choose the method that best suits you before going forward.
- Meet the attorney and check who will work on the caseTrusting someone’s judgment or falling for an ad that screams of several credentials should not be the way to decide whom you want to work with. Meet the attorney personally to decide if he/she is well qualified to take your case. Consult with as many attorneys as you want and then finalize on one. Remember that there is nothing wrong in not choosing the attorneys you have consulted with.
Once you have chosen your attorney, feel free to ask as many questions before discussing your case. Find out who will work on the case, if their team has adequate experience and skillsets, how will they bill you and how much time would your attorney dedicate to your case. Also discuss how things would be handled in case your attorney falls sick or is available due to unexpected situations at any point of the case.
- Discuss the case clearlyThis is the final and the most important step. Discuss every detail of your case with your attorney. Hiding or withholding any information will only work against you as keeping your attorney in the dark will risk your defense. He should know the exact details to prepare for the case in the best way possible. It also helps them in deciding how to proceed with the case and if you need any ancillary services such as private investigation, psychotherapy etc. Remember, you and your defense attorney are on the same team. So, be clear and honest so that they know exactly what to do to help you.
At Fresno Lawmen, we have various criminal defense attorneys who specialize in handling different criminal charges. We ensure that legal rights of our clients are represented and that every case is given meticulous attention it deserves. Our team understands the law surrounding criminal charges and represents the clients in different courts in the best manner possible.