Being charged with a criminal offense is something that can really take a toll on your life. No matter if you are guilty or not, the experience of having to deal with the police, court visits and a mountain of papers can leave you feeling uneasy at the very best.
The first thing you need to do, if you are faced with this type of situation is contact and hire an attorney. But since the number of attorneys has grown significantly in the past few years, deciding who is going to represent you is not an easy task. The first meeting you have with your attorney is going to determine if they are suited to represent you or not, so you need to take it very seriously. Below is a list of topics you need to cover when you first meet your attorney, to make sure that your future is in good hands.
Their experience with similar cases
First things first, you need to determine if the legal professional you are talking to is suited to represent your case. Depending on the level of difficulty of your case, you might have to do some research before finding someone who has experience with issues similar to yours.
Ask the attorney about past experience and what recommends them to handle your case. Discuss past clients and, if possible, ask if you could talk to a couple of them who can vet for the services of your attorney. Don’t rush into decisions just because you are desperate to stay out of jail.
An attorney should be a legal expert that is doing everything in their power to turn the odds in your favor, so you need a person that is interested in your case and is willing to invest their time and energy into winning it. No matter how good of a professional they are, if they don’t have a high level of expertise in cases similar to yours, the chances of you winning will be significantly lower.
Their success rate
Apart from their experience, you also need to make a point in discussing their success rate in cases similar to yours. They could have been working hundreds of cases, but if they lost the majority of them, then they are not the expert you should be looking for.
Ask about similar cases, what their strategy is and how they managed to win, even if the circumstances were not necessarily favorable. Ask for exact numbers, not just stories about court meetings. How many cases did they handle? How many of those did they win? What did they do when they lost the case?
Remember that winning a case does not necessarily mean keeping the defendant out of jail. In some cases, it may mean getting a lower sentence, or obtaining a plea bargain.
The attorney fees
Fees are an important aspect that needs to be discussed from the beginning of your collaboration. This can be a sensitive subject, as you want to hire an attorney that is good enough to turn the odds in your favor, but at the same time you don’t want to get into financial problems and struggle to pay their huge fees. There is no other way to ask about their fees, other than straight-forward. You want to get a clear answer from the start, so you know what to expect.
Some attorneys charge hourly rates, which can result in significantly high expenses for you, if your case takes a long time to resolve. Other attorneys work on a fixed fee, meaning you will know upfront who much their services are going to cost.
The potential outcome of your case
No attorney can completely guarantee the outcome of your case, but they do have some experience and can tell you what to expect. Ask for best- and worst-case scenarios and request for them not to give you false hope.
“To get a response that is as close to reality as possible, make sure not to leave any important detail out. The discussion you have with your attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege, meaning you can safely speak about what happened. They need to be aware of everything you did or said during the course of events, so that they can start drawing out an action plan for your case and give you clear answers.” advises a criminal attorney Salt Lake City.
The outcome of your case depends on many variables and no attorney, no matter how good they are, can completely guarantee the results. If you find a lawyer who tells you that they will 100% win your case, thank them and go see another one. This is purely a technique to make you hire them.
Your criminal history
Again, keep in mind that everything you discuss with your lawyer is confidential, meaning you words will not leave their office, except under very special circumstances that could put someone’s life at risk. This means you should tell your attorney everything about your criminal history, to avoid them not being prepared in court.
Every detail can be extremely important, so discuss the crime without leaving anything out. Keep in mind that they were not present there at the time the crime was committed, so even if they don’t ask about certain details that you think might count, mention them. It’s better for them to have more information than they need, rather than find out in court that you were more involved that you actually told them.
It is extremely important that you can contact your attorney whenever you need it, so make sure to discuss how often and by which means you will be communicating. Talk to them about the frequency
Can you call them only during a certain time of the day, or are they available at any time? Will you be speaking with them directly, or will you be also communicating with others form the firm? These are all questions that will help you determine how reliable your lawyer is and help give you some peace of mind during this unfortunate experience.