Very few people go through life planning to need the services of a defense attorney. When charged with a serious offense, however, you need to have an experienced defense attorney at your side through the entire process, from as early as possible. You need an attorney who will be there when called into the police station for questioning all the way to the time when the court makes its final ruling.
You could hire any lawyer whose name comes up in an internet search for “defense attorney,” or one who is listed in the yellow pages. The problem with those sources is that they do not give you a lot of information beyond the name and contact details. What you need is a defense attorney with the talent and professionalism that comes from the experience of representing others in similar situations to yours.
A few things to consider, carefully, before hiring a defense attorney to represent you.
EDUCATION – A well-educated defense attorney can offer you more help than someone who meets the minimum requirements for holding the job. In addition to asking about where the lawyer received a degree, you also want to ask how long he has been a lawyer. How many cases has he tried? Knowledge gleaned from trying cases is as important as what he learned while earning a degree and passing the bar.
REPUTATION – What presence does the criminal defense attorney have inside the courtroom? What do other lawyers say about him? Is he well-respected for fairness and giving his legal clients 110%? Or does he have a reputation for being a weasel willing to do whatever it takes to get his clients off, regardless of the alleged crimes against them? Know what type of reputation you want in a lawyer before looking into this aspect.
EXPERIENCE – Depending on the alleged charges against you, you may need a defense attorney who has special experience in a certain type of crime. For example, you would not hire a lawyer who specializes in defending sex offenders if the charge against you is vehicular manslaughter. An attorney who understands your case through the experience of working with past clients facing similar charges is more familiar with specific laws pertaining to the subject matter at hand.
TRACK RECORD – What is the track record of the criminal defense attorney that you are considering hiring? The last thing you want to do is hire someone with a record of losing one case after another. Not only are you wasting your hard-earned money on someone with a bad track record, but you are also putting your future at risk. A defense attorney with a bad track record has a good chance of losing your case, too.
In every town and city across the United States, there are lawyers who have the education and experience to cater to your needs. Depending on where you live, the selection may require a little more research. You could start out by asking friends and family for recommendations. If you belong to a church, trade union through your employer, or some type of civic organization, they may be able to provide you with recommendations as well.
It is important to feel comfortable with the criminal defense attorney that you hire. The more comfortable you are with your lawyer, the easier it will be to explain your side of the situation to him and give him all relevant points related to the case against you. The more information your lawyer has, the better he can prepare your case, whether it is using evidence to prove your innocence or finding a loophole to get the charges dropped completely.
Choosing the wrong criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between either securing your freedom or spending huge sums of money in restitution and other fines, and possibly even time behind bars. Even after you serve your time and pay off the debt, you will have to face a lifetime of shame and embarrassment. The guilty verdict will follow you throughout your entire life, as you will have to record your felony on every job application, and some other forms. The negative associations are worse if your felony involves a sex crime or a child.
Do not be afraid to search in the next town or closest city to the geographic location where your court case will be held if you cannot find the right criminal defense attorney in your town. Although it may be more expensive to hire someone with a better reputation and higher level of education, you will make up for it in the fees, time, and humiliation that you will save when that lawyer encourages the jury to find you not guilty on all charges.