What is a criminal law attorney?
A criminal law attorney legally defends people in court for offenses relating to Penal law: murders, robberies, assaults of all kinds, rape, fraud, etc. His job is to advise and defend victims as well as perpetrators of crimes and offenses. Whether for immediate hearings, police custody, a long process, or an interminable trial, his main task is to defend his clients.
Finding the right criminal law attorney for your case is not simple; and a wrong choice can mean death sentence. Your lawyer plays a decisive role in the court case; you cannot choose lightly.
In all professions there are good and bad; you, as a consumer, is to be able to tell and chose the right professional for your case. But when it comes to assess the competence of a lawyer, it is easier to say than done if you don’t know the right tips to use.
So, how to choose the right criminal law attorney for your case?
You need to assess different criteria in order to select the best attorney for your case. Here are some important points that can greatly help you:
- Evaluate the Proximity
Each lawyer tends to work in a well defined geographical area. The first step will be to identify criminal law attorneys practicing in your area, and therefore could handle your case.
However, this varies depending on the case or its benefits. For instance, for a minor litigation, geographic proximity is a major advantage: it will be easier for the lawyer to meet you, and travel expenses will not unnecessarily exaggerate the case. However, when it comes to contentious issues with significant financial gain, geographic proximity matters much less.
Indeed, in the case of a dispute, and if the case is important, costs and travel time will have little impact on the fees of the lawyer. Under these conditions, so take a lawyer that perfectly suits your needs even if he is far away.
- Chose the right Specialist
It is essential to opt for a suitably qualified criminal law attorney to handle your case. Choosing the right specialty only can make a difference between win and lose. For example, you will not choose a business lawyer for a criminal case, unless the latter is also specialized in criminal law cases.
Also ensure yourself that your legal representative can really take your case in charge. For instance, some lawyers specialize in criminal law of accused. If you are a victim, it would be unnecessary to contact them.
- Search for a good personality
Your lawyer needs to have a good personality which allows you to interact with him comfortably. He will accompany and advise you throughout the case. He should be open and attentive to your situation in order to really help you. He must also be able to prevail in court, and therefore have a strong character.
It is essential to have a professional but also healthy and enjoyable relationship with your lawyer. To be well defended, it is necessary to explain to him all the ins and outs of your case. Consequently, it is imperative to be comfortable with him.
As long as you can, chose a lawyer about the same age as you are. This can facilitate the communication. However, if you are young and you need reassurance, an experienced attorney can be profitable.
- Inquire about the fees
Then comes the question of fees, maybe the most important point. It is normal for a lawyer to live well on his profession. And to do so, he must charge his clients. This should not be a taboo subject and your lawyer should be transparent about his fees. The problem is when rates are too high or you are charged with hidden fees. This may sound shocking to you, but it does happen.
There is no unique legal fee for each case; the fees can vary from one law firm to another and according to the reputation of the lawyer. The costs of the service are freely determined by each law firm. Thus, the fees of a lawyer in criminal law can range from 100 to … 1000 USD per hour. Feel free to negotiate if you estimate them to be too high.
It is important to discuss payments and other fees with your lawyer during the first appointment before you sign the contract. This guarantees you that you are dealing with a criminal law attorney whose fees are reasonable, and fit your budget.
- Inquire about past performance
As long as you can, get information on the specific lawyer you intend to work with, positive and / or negative, whether he mostly won or lost his cases. However, word of mouth is not always a reliable source. Most people you contact may know nothing unless that lawyer is obviously closed to them or he made a big mistake in the past that was on the news or social media. So even if the references are good, word of mouth is not 100% reliable, you cannot count on them.
You can also Google or YouTube the name of the criminal law attorney you are planning to hire searching for reviews and ratings. Some websites offer this service for free. Members can come and tell their experiences, bad or good, in order to inform other members. It is free to register on most of those websites.
- Assess the Competence
The fact you are not an expert in criminal law does not mean you cannot evaluate or estimate the ability or quality of an attorney. Do your best to avoid hiring an incompetent attorney who will worsen the situation instead of improving it.
In principle, the ethics of the profession indicate that any lawyer can refuse a case if he determines he does not have the required skills to work on it. While others do so, some prefer to take chance, which can be catastrophic for you. It is best to check that he is really qualified to defend you. Otherwise, you will be in hot water when the other party will come with all types of accusations against you.
The first step is to check years of experience. To know since when the attorney has been exercising, you can search the website of your state bar where you will plead your case. You can also search in the local courts for his performance. You will find the date of the oath as well as other information. And to know his successes or defeats, you can check his record. The official website archive judicial decisions of courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. Typing the name of the lawyer, you will know the trial (s) he pleaded and won/lost.
- Hire an attorney or a team of attorneys
As they say, “two is better than one.” In some cases it is better to have a team of experienced attorneys at your defense rather than just one. Certain criminal cases can be very complicated; in this is case, having a group of professional defending you can bring better results. A simple solution is to hire a law firm with multiple lawyers having years of experience that can work together to successfully plan your defense.
It will be more difficult for one lawyer who works alone to prioritize your case and strategize a successful plan. Another problem is the fact that same attorney can be handling other cases in different courts, which let him little or no time for yours. He may find himself in an obligation to hire another lawyer that hardly knows the facts of your case. Therefore, evaluate your situation and determine if would not be a good idea to hire a criminal law firm instead of a single attorney.