You may not expect to ever need the services of a criminal defense attorney. However, it’s possible you will someday. If this ever happens, you need to take the time to find a lawyer who’s genuinely qualified to handle your case.
The consequences of a criminal conviction can, depending on the nature of the infraction and severity of the sentence, have a lasting impact on various areas of your life.
Your chances of getting the best possible deal or even avoiding a conviction altogether will be much greater if you have representation from a skilled legal professional.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to choose the right attorney for your needs. These tips will help:
1. Find Someone Who Handles Your Specific Type of Case
Criminal defense law is a very broad term that applies to an extremely wide range of crimes and circumstances. You need to hire an attorney who represents clients who’ve committed the specific types of crimes you’re being charged with. A lawyer who primarily works with those charged with drunk driving may not be the ideal choice if you’ve been accused of a white-collar crime, for example.
When you begin searching for an attorney, don’t merely look for a “criminal defense lawyer near me.” Use search terms that are more specific, such as “DUI lawyer” or “intellectual property theft lawyer.”
2. Prioritize Finding an Honest Lawyer
When discussing your case with attorneys you’re thinking about hiring, you want to hear that they’ll be able to get you off without a conviction. However, it’s important to understand that no attorney can make promises. Yes, a lawyer with significant experience can review your case and explain why they believe a certain outcome may be possible to achieve, but they simply can’t make any guarantees.
A lawyer who does seem to be making promises likely wants your business. Why are they so eager? There are many reasons this might be the case. Few of them are good.
Maybe a lawyer is new and doesn’t have many clients yet. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not skilled, it does mean they’re inexperienced.
A lawyer eager for your business might also have trouble attracting clients because they have a negative reputation. Essentially, if you get the sense that a lawyer is promising more than they can truthfully guarantee, you should strongly consider other options.
3. Check Reviews
Asking for referrals from friends or family can be a smart way to find a qualified criminal defense attorney. However, you may not know anyone who’s ever been charged with the crimes you’re accused of.
If so, there are still ways to indirectly get recommendations. For example, there is a range of online platforms that allow past clients to review their attorneys. Check these when vetting your options.
Checking these independent platforms is wise because attorneys themselves can’t control the nature of the reviews former clients leave on them. On their own websites, attorneys can choose to exclusively post testimonials from their satisfied clients, while hiding those that are less-than-flattering. On an independent platform, you’ll find reviews from all clients, and not just those who were pleased with the outcome of their cases.
Perhaps most importantly, you have to strike a delicate balance between care and speed when choosing a criminal defense attorney. You don’t want to wait too long to hire a lawyer, as it’s necessary to start working on your case soon after you’ve been arrested. However, you also don’t want to rush into this decision. Setting aside a reasonable amount of time to find the right lawyer will significantly impact your overall future.