In 30 years, between 1989 and 2019, there have been 2,500 exonerations in the United States. That means over 2,000 individuals were wrongfully convicted of their crimes. In some states, like Nevada, for instance, every crime and warning shows up on your criminal record, no matter its magnitude, and you might have to negotiate with the police on the issue.
While facing criminal charges can be challenging, it’s even more taxing to look for the right criminal defence attorney to advocate for you fairly and effectively. In this article, we’ll look into some of the essential things you should consider when selecting a criminal defence attorney to help you get through the complexities of the legal system.
#1 – Local Reputation and Track Record
Every court has procedures and rules that each attorney who appears before it needs to follow. For example, a criminal lawyer should be up-to-date with regulations that the Eighth Judicial District Court has laid out. You should first consider whether the attorney is familiar with the local law and court rules. You should look for lawyers in your area, as they’re more likely to have first-hand experience with your state’s courts. You can also look up their case history to determine their location of practice.
Once you’re sure the attorney is proficient in local state law, you’ll already know that they know how the system works in the state, so the next step is to determine experience and credibility. You can determine the credibility of lawyers by reading reviews online or asking for references. Read about client experiences, testimonials, and previous case outcomes to assess their success at criminal defence. You should also ask your friends, neighbours, or family members for referrals of attorneys with whom they have had positive experiences.
#2 – Specialty
Many attorneys practice general law, appearing in court for a diverse range of case types. But it’s often a good idea to hire someone specializing in criminal law when it comes to criminal defence. You can determine their speciality by asking them or looking through the number of criminal cases in their track record and enquiring about their success rates.
Within criminal law, some attorneys might be specialists in specific areas such as embezzlement, drug cases, domestic abuse, DUIs, etc. You can choose someone who defends those with a similar conviction as yours, or you may decide to hire a general criminal defence attorney. But, in either case, be sure you’re satisfied with their expertise and reputation.
#3 – Legal Fees and Availability
Preparing a winning defence comes with a high hiring cost. Unfortunately, the more successful and well-reputed a criminal defence attorney is, the higher their hourly rate will be. The price may vary according to the crime, where a misdemeanour is much cheaper than a felony.
Before you hire an attorney, it’s a good idea to discuss their fee structure and your payment schedule upfront. You should also consider how much you’re willing to spend and discuss it openly with your potential lawyer beforehand. While it may be possible to negotiate the fees with some attorneys, others might have a fixed price. It’s best to prepare ahead for the financial hit you’ll take.
#4 – Consultation
Once you’ve narrowed your potential attorneys to a handful, you should schedule consultations to determine if their communication skills and overall style suit you. During this meeting, clarify any questions you have, from client-attorney relationships to their fee structure. Determine how comfortable you are with the attorney since they will represent you in court and could be responsible for any sentence you get. Once you’re at ease with them, you can choose your final defence attorney.
Hiring a criminal defence attorney is a critical decision as the outcome of your case might heavily depend on it, especially if you’re wrongfully convicted. Before you decide on your lawyer, consider their area, experience and success rate, speciality, fee structure, and your general comfort level with them as a client. Your attorney will be your advocate in court, and their success at the job will dictate what the judge or jury decides. Make sure you take the time to choose one if you find yourself in a sticky situation with the legal system.