Have you found yourself in a situation that suddenly leaves you needing a criminal defense attorney? It’s not the kind of life situation most people plan for or envision in their lives, but when it happens it’s necessary to have a plan and ensure you’re as well-informed as possible.
Choosing a criminal defense attorney in the city of Los Angeles should be much more involved than just calling the first number that pops up in your search. This is your very livelihood at stake, and you may very well be facing fines and jail time. You want to be sure you choose an attorney that is up to the task and will help ensure the best outcome possible.
With that in mind, we’ve gone ahead and put together a guide that is meant to take you through the process of choosing not just any criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles – but a good one.
Here are seven essential steps you’ll want to adhere to in the process.
Ask for Referrals
A great place to start is to ask around with friends, co-workers, and even family members if they have personally dealt with a criminal defense attorney in the Los Angeles area. It doesn’t matter whether their experience was good or bad, the more information you can gather, the easier it will be to narrow down your options.
For those that do give you referrals, ask what their experience was – you will want specifics. What made them feel the way they did – either positively or negatively.
If you don’t have any friends or family members that can give you referrals, there is nothing wrong with looking up reviews online. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes these reviews can be jaded so you need to see them for what they are and use your own judgment. Each criminal charge will be unique to that situation.
Find an Attorney with Experience
The next important step is to find an attorney with experience. This isn’t just general experience. You want to specifically find one that is experienced with criminal defense in relation to the charge(s) you are facing. They should have in-depth knowledge of the courts in Los Angeles. In other words, look for an attorney that has been at this for quite some time, and is well-versed in the system.
You don’t want to leave your fate to someone who is just learning the ropes of practicing law or is new to the Los Angeles area. Criminal lawyer Ambrosio Rodriguez urges those facing criminal charges to make sure they call a criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record. Rodriguez knows first-hand how much of a different experience makes, and he is sure to share this tip with all his clients.
Set Up a Consultation to Discuss Your Case
Once your list has been narrowed down and you’ve chosen a potential attorney, it’s time to set up a consultation. The consultation will work differently for different law practices. Some will be free but others you will need to pay for. It’s best to ask at the time of booking the consultation, so you won’t have an unpleasant surprise.
The consultation is easily one of the most important parts of the decision-making process. Think of this as a job interview. You want to know that the attorney you choose is right for you and your case. What this means is that you will want to write out a list of questions to ask of the attorney, and be prepared to also answer their questions.
Typically, in a consultation, you will let them know the charges, share your side of things, and then the attorney will ask questions and let you know how they would approach the case. This also includes what their expected outcome would be or what they would aim for.
Do You Feel Comfortable Speaking With the Attorney?
While this may seem like a really simple question, it is an important thing to ask yourself. You need to have a professional rapport with your attorney, feel comfortable talking to them and asking them questions, and trust that they have your best interest in mind. It sounds dramatic but the attorney you choose can often make or break your case, so you need to feel comfortable with them.
Make Sure the Attorney Clearly States their Rates
Another tip is to make sure you discuss the attorney’s rates from the get-go before you even decide to use them. Again, it’s about making sure you don’t have any surprises down the road. Not only will you need to ask about rates, but you should ask about payment terms. When is payment due, can you pay in installments, and so forth.
Is the Attorney Easy to Reach – Speak To?
Typically, you also want to find an attorney that you can reach relatively easily should you have any questions or concerns. Things are bound to pop up with your case and situation, and being able to quickly reach your attorney and ask questions can help put your mind at ease.
You’ll also want to be clear about how these conversations are billed, again to eliminate any potential surprises.
Who Will Be Doing the Majority of the Case Work – the Attorney or a Legal Assistant?
Finally, if it’s a firm that your attorney works with, be sure to ask who will be doing the majority of your casework. Will it be the attorney or will the legal assistant be handling the bulk of the work? As well, when you do have questions, who is the best person to contact? Do you need to go through the legal assistant or speak to the attorney directly?
Making the Right Decision for Your Case
Picking the ideal criminal defense attorney in the Los Angeles area isn’t about just going with the trendy attorney at the moment, it’s about picking one that you believe in, trust in, and feel confident that they could represent you and your case correctly in the court of law.