There are over 1.3 million attorneys in the US. After family law, criminal law is the most common area of law for these attorneys.
It can be hard to pick out an attorney if you need a criminal lawyer. You’re already under a lot of stress because you were charged with a crime.
The outcome of the case can have consequences that last a lifetime. It impacts your ability to get a job, home, and even vote.
A criminal defense lawyer is necessary to get a positive outcome and avoid some of the direst consequences. Finding the right criminal defense attorney is critical.
You’ll want to interview several attorneys in your area to find the best criminal defense lawyer. This isn’t the time to get intimidated because you have to ask an attorney questions.
We’re about to take the intimidation out of the process and give you vital information to find an attorney to represent you. Read on to learn the top questions to ask a criminal defense lawyer before hiring one.
1. What Areas of Criminal Law Do You Specialize In?
Before you start the process to interview attorneys, there are two questions that you want to know right away. You can find this information on an attorney’s website or by calling.
Taking this step saves time for you and the attorney. The first question asks what area of criminal law the attorney specializes in.
For example, the criminal defense attorney can specialize in DUI cases and traffic crimes. You might need a federal criminal defense attorney to represent you in court.
There are differences between the two areas of criminal law. Webb Law Maine outlines those differences, so you can tell if you need an attorney that works with state cases or federal cases.
It’s important to have an attorney that works in a specific area of criminal law, rather than focus on personal injury, divorce cases, and other cases.
The best criminal lawyer knows the judges and prosecuting attorneys well. They’ll know what to expect and how to position your case to win.
2. Do You Offer a Free Consultation?
There’s only so much you can learn about an attorney in a quick phone call. They’ll want to know more about your case, too.
It’s best to have a meeting with the attorney in person. A free consultation allows the attorney to review your case and answer questions.
Make sure that the criminal attorney offers a free consultation. You don’t want to get charged an hourly rate to learn that the attorney isn’t a good fit for you.
You’ll want to bring documentation related to your criminal case. Attorneys typically want to see your work history, so bring a copy of your resume and contact information.
They’ll want to know about the case. Bring copies of the police report, medical records, and documentation about any prior criminal history.
Ask the criminal lawyers’ office if there’s anything else you should consider or bring with you to the consultation.
3. How Many Cases Have You Handled?
There are a few things that you want to get out of this question. You want to learn more about the attorney’s experience.
This will help you understand how many criminal cases they worked with. Follow up by asking if they worked with cases like yours.
If a criminal attorney worked with only a few cases like yours, they may miss important details that can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
An attorney with a lot of experience working on cases like yours will know exactly how to review the evidence and find holes in the prosecutor’s case against you.
The last follow-up to this question is the success rate. The best criminal defense attorney will have a good track record of success.
4. Who Handles My Case?
The person who you have the consultation with may not be the person who handles your case. Be sure to find out who the lead person is.
Big law firms and high-priced attorneys have paralegals and law associates to handle your criminal case. You think that you paid for the big-named lawyer sitting in front of you.
When it’s time for court, a lawyer with a couple of years of experience shows up to represent you. It’s a common situation and one that could be detrimental to your case.
Make sure you know who is doing the hard work of your case before you commit to an attorney.
5. How Accessible Is the Attorney Handling My Case?
There’s nothing worse than being terrified of your legal situation only to have your attorney disappear. They may be working behind the scenes, but communication would put you at ease.
You want to know how you can communicate with the attorney. Ask if you can contact them directly or if you have to go through the office.
Can they meet with you on your schedule, or do you have to meet during their working hours? Learning this now will save you from disappointment and frustration.
6. What Is the Fee/Payment Structure?
The most important question is about the cost of representation. Attorneys work either hourly or for a flat fee. The attorney should tell you what they charge and the expected cost of your case.
Some attorneys recognize that you’re in a stressful situation and may not be able to pay the entire fee upfront. They may ask for a deposit or have a payment plan to ease your stress.
How to Interview a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you want to hire the best criminal defense lawyer, you have to know what questions to ask before you hire them.
These questions will help you determine which criminal defense lawyer is the right one for your case. Keep this list of questions handy as you contact attorneys in your area.
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