Criminal charges carry severe penalties if convicted. While some people may feel confident arguing their own cases, that approach is not suitable for most people. The smartest way is to hire a criminal defense attorney, but being selective in your approach is important, too. When considering an attorney, weigh your decision against five criteria to ensure you make the right choice.
1. Clear Fee Structure
It should come as no surprise that criminal defense lawyers are expensive. Many attorneys have hourly rates above $150. You can find some attorneys who offer flat fees for specific case types, but often the hourly rate is equivalent. The primary thing to look for when selecting an attorney is a transparent fee structure. Make sure that the language regarding fees is direct and unambiguous.
While all criminal defense attorneys have familiarity with criminal law, they also have specializations. It is essential to find an attorney with the appropriate specialization for your case. For example, you do not want a lawyer who specializes in assault cases if you are facing drug charges. While any attorney may do well arguing your defense, those with the expertise for your case will do better.
Many people think that hiring a big city attorney for their criminal case is the best option for a favorable verdict, but that is not always the case. Hiring a qualified local attorney will often bode well for a defendant. Lawyers with local knowledge and experience are usually familiar with local prosecutors and judges, which means they understand how each operates.
Another concern when hiring an attorney is communication. As the client and criminal defendant, you need to understand the trial and your situation. You want to find an attorney who understands and empathizes with your position. They should be responsive to your inquiries and explain everything in a way you understand. If at any time you feel like you are unheard or uncared for, find another option.
Criminal defense attorneys need to be confident — the arguments and negotiations they enter into on your behalf demand it. However, there is a difference between confidence and arrogance or ego. Lawyers often tread a fine line between each level of emotion. A confident attorney knows the law, understands your case and shows full faith in their defense strategy. An egotistical or arrogant attorney offers guarantees of outcomes or brags about the brilliance of their strategy. Be cautious of braggadocious attorneys.
If you are preparing for a criminal trial, contact several local criminal defense attorneys. Weigh your options against the above list to narrow your selection. Contact a lawyer today to begin the process.