Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or serious felony, hiring a criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between paying serious penalties and spending time behind bars, or regaining your life and freedom. But you don't just want any criminal defense attorney. Hiring one that will build the strongest defense for you is important.
When shopping for a criminal defense lawyer, here are three things you should look for:
An attorney with not only many years of experience, but background in various areas of criminal defense can offer you the strong defense you need when battling a criminal charge. For example, attorneys who have experience as both prosecutors and defense attorneys know exactly how the prosecutor will handle your case. This knowledge of how the other side operates can help you know what to expect, and help you and your attorney come up with the strongest defense possible.
Does the attorney personally answer his or her phone, or do you have to go through receptionists every time you call? Are they available to take your call 24 hours a day? Criminal charges can happen at any hour of the day, so it's important to have legal representation that's available to you at any moment. Checking to see if the attorney is also easy to stay in touch with past the initial phone call or meeting is also important. When you have questions later, or remember something important to the case, you need to be able to quickly get in touch with your attorney.
Taking a look at the attorney's communication style is also key when you have your first meeting or consultation. When you have a conversation, do they seem to understand what you are saying, and are the lines of communication open on both ends? It's crucial to be able to relay information back and forth in a productive and efficient manner.
You may have to talk to your attorney about difficult matters. Is this a person you'd feel comfortable sharing details about your life with, when it pertains to your case? Do you feel like the attorney would spend enough time to give you the individual attention you need and really get to know all your legal matters? Looking for an attorney who doesn't make you feel rushed or like their time with you is limited is important. You need to feel comfortable talking with your attorney. Another factor to consider is that attorneys often offer emotional support when things get tough for their clients on a case. Is this someone you could see offering emotional support in a way you need them to?
The legal system is set up in a way in which almost no one can defend themselves in the criminal justice system without an attorney - even if you are highly intelligent and are up to do the work yourself. Especially when you could be looking at hefty fines or prison sentences, having a prompt, thorough and experienced attorney is the best choice you can make for your future. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, so take advantage of that and meet potential attorneys you think would be a good fit for your case.