If you have been charged with a crime or you anticipate being so, you probably already know that you are in serious trouble that could have implications that could affect you for the rest of your life. That’s the plain truth. The good news in this is whether you or someone you know has had a run-in with the law, the time to meet with a lawyer is as quickly as possible after you have been arrested or charged. What follows are some general suggestions for how you should deal with a situation like this.
2. Find a criminal defense attorney. Not every lawyer can help you with a criminal defense problem. Only those who specialize in defending clients facing criminal charges should be among those you consider hiring. A good criminal defense lawyer can help you understand what you are facing. He can also be helpful in getting a plea deal for a lesser offense or even getting charges dropped completely.
3. Find a lawyer who deals with the type of law you are facing. There are many ways of finding a good lawyer. You could ask a friend for a recommendation. You could even ask a friend who is a lawyer who they would recommend. The most important thing is that whomever you hire, make sure that they are qualified to handle the type of case you are involved in. If you are being accused of breaking a state law, hire a lawyer who handles state laws. On the other hand, if you are accused of breaking a federal law, make sure you hire a lawyer who can handle a federal case. Either way, make sure that your attorney has both the time and the experience to handle your case.
4. Talk to the public defender. Public defenders are normally for those accused of a crime but who cannot afford a private attorney. Public defenders are often not able to dedicate a lot of time to any individual case. They also have limitations on other resources that they can dedicate to your case. If you don’t have the money to pay a private attorney, you might do well to consult with a public defender, especially if you are not facing a serious charge. A good public defender can advise you on who you should be working with.
5. Pay attention to specialties. There was a time when lawyers specialized in either criminal or civil cases. This is not so true anymore. Today’s laws are so much more complex that many lawyers are even more specialized into subspecialties such as rape, murder, financial cases, and so forth. The State Bar is often the ultimate authority for credibility. Pay attention to their recommendations for who handles different types of cases.
6. Choose the qualities that are important to you. Professional qualifications are important, but you should also select a lawyer who has the personal qualities that are important to you. Is the person you are speaking with a good communicator? Do they have a good track record? Are they friendly and do they listen to you? Do you feel like you can get along with this person?
7. Ask reputable sources. There are many organizations that can recommend lawyers based on their specialties. States and cities often have associations of criminal defense attorneys. These groups can make excellent recommendations about members who might be able to assist you.
8. Be careful. When you are facing a criminal charge you need to make sure that you are hiring someone who has all the qualities that you need to win your case. Don’t be taken in by clever marketing ploys and slick presentations. Sitck to the facts. Express yourself, and listen. Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask in a first consultation (which should be free), and make sure you understand how you will be charged for services. Your future depends on what you find out.