Do you know what to look for in a lawyer should you ever need one?
No one knows what life can throw at us, so when you’re in a legal bind a lawyer can be a real help. But with so many firms and individuals out there, it can be hard to know what lawyer pick.
Don’t worry! Read on for 10 tips for choosing good criminal lawyers.
1. Pick a Lawyer That’s Responsive
Time is of the essence when it comes to facing criminal charges. If time is being wasted, you might as well throw the towel in on the case. You need a criminal lawyer who will get to work straight away.
When you contact them, they should be quick to reply. You should expect their legal team to arrange a meeting within 1 working day. Make sure they’re quick at answer emails and phone calls. This suggests that they’ll be just as on the ball when it comes to your defense.
2. Make Sure They Specialize in Criminal Law
Make sure the lawyer you’re considering specializes in criminal law. This doesn’t mean it has to be the only law they practice, just the one they’ve selected as a specification. If you can’t find anything about criminal law on their website, look for someone else.
If you want the best job done possible, you need someone who regularly defends criminal cases. This ensures they are up to date with current nuances. They’ll have all the recent, relevant information to win your case.
3. Are They Experienced in the Local Courts?
As we’ve seen, up to date information is key here. Local connections and relationships can be a huge help when defending criminal cases. Be sure to pick a lawyer that knows the ins and outs of your local court system, like criminal defense attorney Matthew Meyer.
Each court will have its own way of doing things, and each judge will too. By knowing each court and judge’s individual methods, it could be a huge advantage to winning your case.
4. Conduct a Background Check
Before committing to hiring, check with the lawyer disciplinary agency that your chosen lawyer is in good standing. Get references and see what others have to say. This is key especially if you’ve found them via the internet.
Also, look for any peer reviews. Peer reviews will give you an unbiased look at a lawyer’s ethical standards and professional abilities. They come from evaluations of other members of the bar and the judiciary so you can trust their opinions.
5. Ask Other Lawyers
Skill and reputation are important to lawyers – so they’re all likely to know of each others’. Ask another lawyer about who you’re considering. They might have insight that you won’t see in any reviews online.
Things they could reveal include their:
- Ethics/personal beliefs
- Practice habits
- Success rates/reliability
6. Do They Know the Basics Off By Heart?
A good criminal lawyer should know the basics of common crimes off by heart. This doesn’t mean they need to be a walking legal encyclopedia though. What you should expect is a quick explanation of possible outcomes for your charges.
They should know what they’re supposed to ask you in order to check if any nuances apply. The best criminal lawyers will have a level of familiarity with the criminal justice system and its laws.
7. Their Fee Structure Should be Simple and Clear
A good lawyer will make it clear how they take payment and will give you a likely fee structure. This should include a list of services and their fees along with a total of what your defense will cost.
Going for the cheapest isn’t always the best option. You should ask what their quote includes. Always make sure your lawyer is up to the task of providing a vigorous and thorough defense. You can’t afford not to!
8. See Their Enthusiasm
You want to make sure your chosen lawyer will mount a thorough investigation. They should only go to trial when it’s the best time to. They should also only encourage you to take a plea deal if it’s in your best interests. Any good lawyer will put you first and be able to back up their decisions to you.
One way to check this is to gauge their enthusiasm. You should always pick someone with experience. But the number of years doesn’t mean everything. Make sure there is sincere interest in their field. And they must show genuine eagerness and drive to defend you.
9. Take an Office Tour
Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a lawyer but the state of their office. Ask for a brief office tour that takes you out of the conference room or the office you met them in. Check the office is:
Also, consider what sort of support staff they have and if they’re friendly and helpful. Are the offices local and easy for you to get to? Does it seem understaffed and empty?
You should watch out for:
- Disorganization and disarray
- Empty offices and cubicles
- Unhappy, discontent staff members
These warning signs suggest a lack of ethics and professionality which will likely spill over into your defense.
10. They Are Happy to Take Direction From You
At the end of the day, your criminal charges are yours to defend. No one else’s. This means the big decisions should be up to you to make. Your lawyer should control things like choosing witnesses to call and filing any motions.
Big decisions include whether you want to plead guilty or take your case to trial. Your lawyer needs to take time to understand your goals and opinions. These priorities should be then taken into account as they guide and help you put together a plan of defense.
Good Criminal Lawyers are Easy to Find When You Know How
So there you have it! If you’re even in a legal bind, you’ll know what to look for in good criminal lawyers.
Make sure they have the basics down, and they specialize in criminal law. Check reviews and gauge their enthusiasm to make sure you know they’ll do their best work. And ultimately, make sure they’re putting your interests first.
If you found this article helpful, check out our other blog posts.