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How to Pick Criminal Defense Attorneys: Everything You Need to Know

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One way to help alleviate your stress is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can help you navigate the criminal justice system, build a strong case for your defense, and make sure that your rights are not violated.

If you are facing criminal charges, read on to learn more about how to pick criminal defense attorneys that will work for you.

Ask For Recommendations and Referrals

Like most things, a good first step in exploring your options for attorneys is to ask your friends and family for recommendations. They may have experience with an attorney that they would recommend or one that they would advise you to avoid.

If you know anyone who is a lawyer, ask them for their recommendation. Even if they don’t practice criminal law, it’s likely that they know attorneys who practice criminal law, know what kind of reputation they have in the legal community, and can give a professional opinion on potential attorneys.

A fellow lawyer telling you who they would want representing them if they were facing criminal charges is one of the best referrals that you can get.

Do Your Own Research

Once you make a shortlist of potential attorneys, it’s time to do your own research. Read online client reviews, review potential attorney’s websites, and see if they have information about past cases they have won or clients they have represented.

Checking with your local bar association to see if they have any grievances or disciplinary actions is another thing to look for when you are doing your research.

Find an Attorney With Experience

Just as you wouldn’t go to a neurosurgeon to operate on your heart, you shouldn’t go to a real estate attorney for a criminal charge. Make sure the attorneys you are considering have criminal defense experience. If you are facing federal charges, you’ll also want to make sure they have experience with the federal criminal justice system.

You can also see if they have experience with your particular offense. If an attorney specializes in drug cases, but you are facing embezzlement charges, for example, you may want to find an attorney who specializes in white-collar crimes. Not all criminal defense attorneys are created equal.

Decide What’s Important

If you committed the crime you are accused of but have a justification for it, such as self-defense, you may want an attorney who can help you mount a strong self-defense case.

If you feel that you were targeted because of your race, you may want an attorney that specializes in civil rights cases or one that takes on police excessive force cases.

You may also want to take your case to trial to demonstrate your innocence. If this is the case, a criminal defense attorney who is an experienced trial attorney is what you want. If you want to make a quick plea agreement to get the case closed as quickly as possible, an attorney known for having a good working relationship with the prosecutor can benefit you, as they may be able to negotiate an attractive plea deal for you.

Determining what is important to you will depend on what case strategy you wish to take. You can usually get a sense of what kind of strategy a particular attorney might take during your consultation with them.

Schedule a Consultation

Most attorneys will offer a free case consultation where they will discuss your case, what kind of strategy they think may be best, and ask questions about the alleged crime. At this consultation, you should take the time to get to know them, ask them about their experience, and get a clear understanding of their fees.

Some of the questions you should ask about their experience and fee structure include:

  • How long have you been practicing criminal law?
  • Do you have experience with similar cases?
  • What have the outcomes of those cases been?
  • How many cases have you taken to trial?
  • How many trials have resulted in acquittal?
  • What is your fee? Do you charge hourly? Do I have to pay a retainer?
  • Are there other expenses that I should expect?

You’ll also want to know about what resources they have to build your case. Ask things like:

  • What kind of resources do you have at your disposal?
  • Will there be others working on my case?
  • Do you have access to expert witnesses or others who can strengthen my case?

About your case and the legal strategy, you should ask:

  • What are my legal options?
  • What is working in my favor?
  • What challenges do you see in my case?
  • What kinds of things should I do/not do while the case is pending?
  • What’s the best-case scenario?
  • What’s the worst-case scenario?

Communication Skills

During your consultation, pay attention to the lawyer’s overall communication style. If they are condescending and rude to you, chances are that they will be like that in court as well. You don’t want your lawyer’s poor behavior or lack of communication skills to negatively impact your case.

Talking to your attorney often will also likely be an important part of preparing your case, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable communicating with them.

In the end, go with your gut. If someone feels right, they probably are. If you feel that they aren’t the right person, you’re probably right about that too.

Pick Criminal Defense Attorneys That Will Work For You

Figuring out how to pick criminal defense attorneys can be nerve-wracking. They could have a significant impact on your life and the outcome of your case, so you want to pick the right one.

Using our tips, you can find an attorney who specializes in your particular type of case and can help you build a strong case.

If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact us at Hanlon law today. We are available 24/7 and specialize in criminal defense cases.

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