Being charged with a crime can be an emotionally and socially damaging event. You can find that people you had always counted on shy away from you or that people in the street have already labeled you a criminal in their mind. For many people charged with a crime, the only person they can trust to believe them and advocate for them is their criminal defense lawyer -- but only if they choose their criminal defense lawyer wisely.
In order to facilitate your search for a criminal defense attorney you can trust, we have compiled a few questions to ask anytime you speak with a prospective criminal attorney.
- What sort of experience do you have?
If there is any field where experience matters, it will be law. While it might be tempting to think that an Ivy League education makes for a world class lawyer, you should pay more attention to their career history. You should look for an attorney who has handled cases like yours successfully: how many trials have they won, lost, or settled outside of the courtroom. While past performance is no guarantee, as any lawyer will tell you, it is a good indicator of their ability.
- What do you think of my case?
This question will provide two very important answers. The first is a literal answer: you will receive their legal opinion of the details in your case, what are the best approaches for winning your case, or if a plea agreement might be the best option. Secondly, you will get an idea of how honest the prospective attorney is. Never trust an attorney who guarantees you a win in court; chances are they are simply looking to earn a little extra money and won't invest too heavily in your case.
- Who will be my point person in this case?
Again, you will receive two important pieces of information here. The first is the literal answer, which is far less important than the second: how much commitment can you expect from the law firm. While there are many fine legal secretaries in the world, if you are unable to speak with a lawyer about the day to day operations of your case, then you can bet that they will not invest the time and energy to provide you with the strongest legal defense. Instead, you want your point person to be someone in the room already, someone with whom you've been speaking about your case.
The Sixth Amendment grants you the right to legal representation, a speedy trial, and the ability to confront a witness. Who you choose when exercising that right can be critical to the success of your case.
Using these questions, you will be able to sort through the potential criminal defense lawyers and find the one who will best advocate for you.