When you replace your AC or furnace, you usually talk to several contractors.
But oddly enough, many people go with the first criminal defense lawyer they find.
If you have time (ideally you look for a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are arrested and booked), you should talk to several to find the best one for you.
Here are some great questions to ask criminal defense lawyers to make sure you find the right one:
1. How long have you been a lawyer?
Pretty straightforward here. You want someone experienced, but remember skill is more important than experience.
2. What percentage of your cases involve clients facing the same charges I have?
It’s good to have a criminal defense lawyer, but better to have one with extensive experience defending your specific charges.
3. How often do you take cases to trial?
With this question, you want to gauge how willing your criminal defense attorney is to go to trial. Some will use a plea deal just to make the process easy when really you could get a better legal outcome by going to trial.
The vast majority of criminal defense cases do not go to trial. But you do want a lawyer willing to take yours to trial if appropriate.
4. How many cases have you defended at the courthouse where I’ll be tried?
Part of a successful defense includes knowing the prosecuting attorney and judge. A criminal defense lawyer familiar with those individuals strategizes a more effective defense for you than one who is not.
5. What strategy makes the most sense for defending me?
Get a few opinions here. Give most weight to the lawyer with the soundest reasoning.
6. Will you be doing my casework?
Some larger law firms, but not all, pass off all, most, or some of your case’s work to less experienced junior attorneys. In some cases, junior attorneys even end up representing you at court. So you have to be careful when you talk to that senior attorney. At small firms, or with individual lawyers, the lawyer you talk with does the work.
7. How do you charge for your time?
Some lawyers charge hourly, and others a flat rate. Make sure you trust the fee structure various lawyers charge.
And never go with the cheapest lawyer – unless you want a poor legal outcome. Generally, they charge low rates and make their profit on case volume.
That makes them go through each case fast. And that means they might settle as quickly as possible without filing motions or going to trial and getting you a better legal outcome.
8. Can you predict the outcome of my case?
Any lawyer that says they can or that they’ll promise a certain outcome is telling you what you want to hear to get your business. A lawyer that talks about all possible legal outcomes and does not make promises has your best interests at heart.
If you ask each criminal defense attorney these questions, you’ll find a highly qualified one that gets you the just legal outcome you deserve.