If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to minimize the damage and the ultimate impact this arrest could have on your life. Your choice of criminal defense attorney is extremely important, as choosing the right criminal defense attorney could mean the difference between a sentence of imprisonment and walking away scott-free. Here are some tips on how to choose a criminal defense attorney.
Firstly, do not be fooled by marketing. The criminal defense attorney with the biggest ad in the Yellow Pages is not necessarily the best. In fact, the premier criminal defense attorneys in big cities do not advertise at all. They don’t need to. They get their business through repeat offenders, referrals, publicity, and word of mouth. A flashy ad does not a good lawyer make. Do your homework, and choose a criminal defense attorney with a solid reputation.
Secondly, do not be afraid to shop around. You do not need to retain the first criminal defense attorney who offers you a free consultation. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is a major event. It is more important than shopping for a car, and you don’t buy the first car you see on the lot. You learn about them, take them for test drives. Explain to the attorney that you are meeting with other attorneys to be sure you choose the most suitable for your needs. He’ll understand. And if he doesn’t, if he is insecure, he probably isn’t the best criminal defense attorney for you.
Thirdly, you should understand the nature of legal fees. Many criminal defense attorneys will offer you the option of a flat fee for all legal services performed or an hourly rate. The criminal defense attorney should explain these options to you in great detail, and help you to select the option that is right for you, not for him and his law firm.
Fourthly, keep in mind that sometimes the right criminal defense attorney is the public defender. If you cannot afford a proper criminal defense attorney, one will be appointed to you by the Court. Some public defenders are more experienced and better at their jobs than some attorneys in the private sector, especially those who charge lower legal fees. Find out the reputation of the public defenders in your jurisdiction so that you can make an informed decision.
Finally, you want to choose a criminal defense attorney who is aggressive and who will fight to protect your rights. You can tell a lot about a criminal defense attorney by his personality during the initial consultation (which, by the way, should always be free).