Nobody likes to think about the possibility of facing legal trouble or going to jail. But if you’re ever arrested or accused of a crime, you’ll need to keep your wits about you and act appropriately.
The first thing you’ll need to do is find a good criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. But how can you tell the difference between a good criminal defense lawyer and a “bad” one? And how should you be shopping around for the right criminal defense lawyer?
Why Finding the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer Is So Important
Let’s start by exploring why it’s so important to find the right criminal defense lawyer – and not just the first criminal defense lawyer you happen across.
- Knowledge and competence. Solid criminal defense lawyers tend to be more knowledgeable and more competent. They’re better capable of putting together robust arguments, they’re more exhaustive in their research and preparation, and they tend to be more confident in the courtroom. Together, these byproducts of skill and experience can increase your likelihood of walking free.
- Resources and contacts. Certain lawyers also have access to better resources and more contacts. That means you’ll have a broader and more sophisticated team at your disposal – and you’ll be far more likely to enjoy a favorable outcome.
- Your personal experience. Don’t neglect your own personal experience in this matter. The right lawyer will be enjoyable to work with, listening intently to you and communicating with you effectively. They’ll also be personally invested in your success, making you feel much better and more supported in this difficult situation.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are many ways to look for a criminal defense lawyer. You can use a simple Google Search. You can get recommendations from friends and family members. You can tap into the power of local directories or rely on referrals from social networks.
What’s important is how you evaluate various criminal defense lawyers before making your final decision. No matter what, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Areas of specialty. Different lawyers specialize in different areas. Your lawyer may have at least some background in criminal defense, but they may not be especially familiar with cases like yours. Make sure to figure out the core competencies of each law firm you investigate – and look for something closely aligned with your needs.
- Experience. You should also take a look at the experience level of each lawyer or law firm you’re considering. While it’s certainly possible to get adequate representation from a new lawyer or a firm that just started, more experienced lawyers and firms tend to be more reliable. Working with someone who has decades of experience will make you feel more confident than working with someone who just passed the bar exam.
- Local familiarity. Local court systems tend to be fraught with complications, including complex political relationships and confusing inner workings. That’s one reason why it’s important that your criminal defense lawyer is familiar with this local ecosystem. Do they have relationships with the local judges? Are they used to the quirks of this specific area?
- Team. You’ll probably be working with one lawyer primarily, but it also pays to know some of the other team members who might be working on your case. Are there paralegals or assistants who will also be contributing to your case? Will you be working with an entire team of lawyers?
- Testimonials and reviews. Before moving forward with anyone, investigate the testimonials and reviews this lawyer or law firm has received. Do people generally seem satisfied with the services they provided? Or are there common concerns and complaints listed?
- Fee structure. Criminal defense attorney fee structures vary, so make sure you investigate to find out how much you’re going to pay for these services. Oftentimes, you get what you pay for; more experienced, better skilled lawyers tend to be more expensive. But that also doesn’t mean you have to pay an egregious sum to get adequate representation.
- Personality fit. Don’t neglect the personality fit. Do you get along with this lawyer? Are they easy to speak with and understand? Do they treat you with respect and do they seem enthusiastic about your case?
- Initial experiences. What are your initial experiences like? Are you able to get in touch with this lawyer easily? Do they seem willing and able to answer all your complicated questions?
Different people have different priorities when hiring criminal defense lawyers. It may be important for you to remain within a specific budget or you may be looking for only highly experienced lawyers to join your team. Think carefully about your personal priorities, and make sure you explore every important variable before making your final decision.