Navigating the legal system can be challenging at best, but if you suddenly find yourself charged with a crime or even arrested, it can be terrifying. Along with the natural fear comes the overwhelm and uncertainty of what to do. Making a wrong move can be devastating to your case and going into court without adequate representation could bring consequences that could affect your life long into the future. In fact, finding the best criminal law lawyer for your needs could arguably be one of the most important aspects of your case. Read on for ten tips on finding the best criminal law attorney.
Tip Number One: Timing is Crucial
If you find yourself in a situation where you might need a criminal law attorney, do not delay. It might be tempting to put off the search until your trial date is closer, but that is only making your situation more stressful. You are doing your future attorney a disservice by not giving them time to adequately prepare. In addition, you may find yourself in a situation where you must settle for an attorney that is not your best fit because you are running out of time.
Tip Number Two: Specialization is Important
Make sure the attorney you choose specializes in criminal law. That’s not to say that they can’t also specialize in other things. Just make sure that you do not hire, for example, a tax attorney who has never worked outside of that field to handle your DUI case. Find someone who understands the ins and outs of criminal law.
Tip Number Three: Communication is Key
Find an attorney who makes communication a priority. Attorney’s are busy and you’re certainly not going to be their only case. Even so, at the most basic level, you should have an email and phone number where your attorney can easily be reached. They should follow up within a reasonable time frame when contacted and not appear irritated when you have questions. A good criminal law attorney will also keep you updated on changes or progress on your case and will listen to your wishes and goals as well as provide practical advice.
Tip Number Four: Clear Fee Structure
It is imperative that the criminal law attorney you hire has a clear fee structure. Ask for an explanation if you don’t understand and beware of anyone who refuses to clarify or skirts around the issue. Also, when making comparisons between various fee structures, pay close attention to the details. One lawyer might appear more expensive than another at first, but a closer look might show that they charge more up front and less for ongoing expenses where it might be just the opposite for the other lawyer. The important thing is that the fee structure is clear and up-front and that you are made to feel comfortable about asking questions.
Tip Number Five: Presence of Empathy
At first glance, this might seem like it should be a secondary consideration, but it’s really just the opposite. Facing potential criminal sanctions is an emotionally charged situation. You need someone who has the courtroom expertise, but you also need a compassionate criminal law attorney who will be supportive and understanding of your stress.
Tip Number Six: Prepare in Advance
You wouldn’t shop for an expensive TV without making at least a mental list of your most sought-after requirements, so why would you do that when shopping for a criminal law attorney? Before you start making phone calls, visiting websites, or taking advantage of free consultations, make sure you have a list of what you are looking for. Gather important documents and evidence, if you have any. Make a list of witnesses and what they are prepared to say and do on your behalf. The more homework you do in advance, the more time you and your legal team will have to prepare a solid defense.
Tip Number Seven: First Impressions Matter
It’s a cliché, but it also rings true. When meeting your prospective criminal law attorney for the first time, pay attention to their social cues. Do they seem enthusiastic and interested to hear about your case, or are you met with irritation and disdain? Are you offered realistic advice or sweeping guarantees over which they have no actual control? Take stock of what is going on during that first meeting, but remember it goes both ways. Make sure you are also putting your best foot forward when meeting an attorney for the first time. If they’re going to work for you, they need to believe in you, so don’t give them any reason not to.
Tip Number Eight: Ask About Criminal Law Experience
Delve a little into experience before making a final decision on which lawyer to hire. Just because you find someone who specializes in criminal law, doesn’t mean they’ve ever had a case involving your particular situation. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere. Pay attention to any initial strategy or advice the attorney offers as well as their level of confidence about representing your case.
Tip Number Nine: Explore All Options
Find an attorney who is willing to listen to your wishes and goals. Of course, their main job is to develop a winning strategy, but they should also be willing to accept your input. Your criminal law attorney should be open to exploring many possibilities. It shouldn’t be a “once size fits all” approach when it comes to your freedom and finances.
Tip Number Ten: Follow Your Instincts
The final tip is to simply follow your instincts. It may sound overly simplistic, but if your gut is telling you something is wrong, you at least owe it to yourself to stop for a moment and reflect. If the attorney you meet with is not interacting in a professional manner or does not meet the criteria on your list, then perhaps it’s time to seek other counsel.
Hire a Quality Criminal Law Lawyer
If you are interested in learning more about hiring an attorney experienced in criminal law, please contact Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C. at (703) 361-1555 today. We can provide a comprehensive consultation as well as all the information you need to make the best decision for your criminal law needs.