According to statistics, there were 9,697 criminal appeals before the United States court system in 2019.
When you’re facing a criminal case, having an experienced lawyer can be the difference between success and failure. Without a doubt, the approach you use in selecting criminal defense attorneys influences the outcome significantly.
Keep reading for a close look at five mission-critical factors you should weigh as you look for a criminal defense lawyer to help represent you in court.
1. The Right Experience
Having a lawyer who has a degree of experience is one thing. Hiring an attorney with the necessary track record is a whole other ball game.
At a minimum, you need to look for a criminal defense lawyer who has served clients facing a case similar to yours. If not, the lawyer should at least have handled cases similar to yours.
Wherever you’re interviewing prospective attorneys to work with, you should ask them for more information on cases they handled that carry a bearing with yours.
Should the lawyer not be forthcoming with the information, you can take that to be a red flag.
Remember, many criminal defense lawyers have worked in the police department or the prosecutor’s office in the past. Don’t settle for an attorney who may not have the best track record to help you navigate your case.
2. Glowing Referrals
Alongside a relevant track record, you want to hire an attorney who has a good reputation. An effective way to assess this element is to look at the referrals the lawyer garners.
If you sought prospective candidates through acquaintances, friends, or family, you could better gauge how much the person referring the lawyer trusts them.
Should you have consulted your local bar association to help you identify a criminal defense lawyer, you can check if they are in good standing. Additionally, ask the bar association the criteria they use to recommend lawyers.
That’s because, in some states, all an attorney needs to do is keep up to date with their license, and they will be in good standing. The more due diligence the bar association conducts before recommending lawyers, the better your odds of finding a good match.
Another way to assess a lawyer’s reputation is through checking out online forums where clients leave reviews on attorneys they have worked with.
As you look through this feedback, pay special attention to discrepancies between what the lawyer offers and what past clients went through. You’ll have a good idea of whether you can trust the lawyer enough to move forward with them.
3. Local Legal Network
An experienced attorney who has represented clients in cases similar to yours and has a good reputation is only the start. You also have to look at the relationships the lawyer has at a local level.
Why does this matter?
The laws and regulations influencing your case may apply uniformly across the state. However, various courthouses with the state will likely rely on differing procedures to try a case like yours.
Thus, hiring an attorney who understands the lay of the local justice landscape can give you a crucial advantage.
For example, the District Attorney in one courthouse may have a standard no-plea bargain policy when dealing with some instances. Across the same state, another District Attorney may not have such restrictions.
If you hire an attorney who doesn’t grasp such dynamics, you may end up employing a case strategy that does more harm than good.
Working with an attorney who has an extensive understanding of these nuanced dynamics helps handle your case better.
4. The Personal Connection
Working with an attorney to navigate your case is a personal affair. Once you sign the contract, you get to interact with the lawyer one-on-one. And you don’t want to risk hiring an attorney you don’t feel comfortable working with.
Therefore, part of assessing whether you should hire a criminal defense lawyer is discerning if you can comfortably work together.
For some people, the journey to determining this fit begins when they click on the lawyer’s website. Don’t like or connect with what you see? You can move on to other candidates.
If the content on the lawyer’s website resonates with you, you can go ahead and call their office. Talking to the layer on the phone gives you a better feel of whether you can pursue working with them.
During-person meetings, be on the lookout for how well the lawyer incorporates you into case assessment. Exceptional lawyers know how to make clients a part of the process.
You should also assess if the attorney explains things in a way you can easily understand. If not, try asking questions for clarification and watch how the lawyer responds.
No matter how pressing your case, avoid falling into the trap where you hire a lawyer only because you need one. If you can’t relate well with your attorney, you won’t share openly with them. And that will harm your case results.
5. A Succinct Fee Structure
A dependable attorney makes their fee structure clear from the get-go to help clients decide if working together is a good fit. Sadly, not all lawyers operate this way.
Tons of criminal defense lawyers obfuscate their fee structure so they can get you to pay more. Consequently, you must ask a lawyer you want to work with for a clear breakdown of what you’re expected to pay.
Along the same lines, you should watch out for unusual pricing. If you find a lawyer whose prices are too good to be true, they either have a poor reputation or are drawing you in to inflate your bill later on.
Whenever you encounter a lawyer charging externally higher than standard rates, you should ask yourself whether you’ll be getting the best value for what you pay once you hire them.
Selecting Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Make-or-Break Your Case
How you go about selecting criminal defense attorneys is too important to be left to chance. To improve your odds of a favorable case outcome, you need to identify the factors that make for an excellent criminal defense lawyer so you can engage the best attorney to look after your interests.
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