Best qualities to look for in a criminal defense attorney

Best qualities to look for in a criminal defense attorney
The attorney you meet with is not always the attorney who actually gets assigned your case.

By- Kevin Sumalinog

The Best Qualities to Look For in a Criminal Defense Attorney

No one wants to find themselves facing criminal charges. However, if you have found yourself in this position, hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. While a court-ordered attorney will be appointed to you if you cannot afford an attorney on your own, the court-ordered attorneys, also commonly known as public defenders, are often overworked and tasked with handling a lot of cases. There are many benefits associated with hiring your own criminal defense attorney, when possible.

For most people, being charged with a crime and having to hire a criminal defense attorney is not something that they do many times in their lives. As such, they may be unsure of what qualities they need to look for when they are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney. Whether you are looking to hire an attorney for yourself, or for a loved one who has found themselves in trouble, here are a few of the best qualities to look for as you start your search for a criminal defense attorney.

Their Education

One of the first factors that you need to consider when you are looking for a criminal defense attorney is their education. When you are asking an attorney about their education, you want to ask about where they went to college and what they majored in, as well as asking about what law school they attended. It is also acceptable to ask what GPA they had in law school, if they interned with specific lawyers and what the specialties for those lawyers were. Basically, you want to learn about the attorney and find out about what education they had that makes them qualified to be your attorney.

Some lawyers specialize in criminal law because they had family members who have been through the justice system.Pixabay

Why They Specialize in Criminal Law

One of the qualities that many people overlook when they are picking a criminal defense attorney is why the attorney specializes in criminal law. Some lawyers specialize in criminal law because they had family members who have been through the justice system, or they want to truly help those who are accused of crimes. A great criminal defense attorney should have a passion for the criminal justice system and helping those who have been accused of a crime. Asking an attorney why they decided to focus on criminal law can help you gain insight about what drives or motivates the attorney you may be looking to represent you.

The Type of Experience They Have With Law

It is not uncommon for an attorney to dabble in different types of law. For example, an attorney can offer criminal defenses, but also help with family law cases. Some attorneys focus on what part of the law, while others focus on different areas. One of the questions that you should ask when you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney is what experience they have with the law. Have they worked as a family law lawyer and just recently started handling criminal cases or have they handled only criminal defense cases for their entire career? It is also not uncommon for criminal prosecutors to switch over and start handling defense cases. Asking an attorney about their experience is a great way to learn more about a lawyer's expertise and how much experience they have handling criminal defense cases.

The Experience They Have With the Type of Case You Are Charged With

Asking an attorney how long they have been handling criminal defense cases can help you determine how much expertise they have with criminal cases in general. However, as you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you, you want to take the time to ensure the lawyer has the skills to properly mount a defense and help you. Always ask a criminal defense attorney what their experience is with the type of case that you were charged with. For example, if you were charged with murder, ask the lawyer how many murder cases they have helped on or been a criminal defense attorney for in the past. This is a great way to determine if they have the expertise to assist with cases pertaining to the specific type of crime you are charged with.

Their Track Record For Cases Such As Yours

In addition to simply asking how many cases a criminal defense attorney has handled that are similar to yours, ask what their specific track record is for those cases. For example, if an attorney has handled 20 drug cases, ask them how many of those cases he had his client pled guilty or no contest to, how many cases his client pled guilty to lesser charges for, how many cases were taken to trial, and how many cases were won or lost at trial. Asking an attorney about their track record with cases such as yours allows you to see if an attorney is likely to advise you to take a plea deal or whether they can win a case if it goes to trial. It is important to understand that no two cases are the same, so you should not expect the same outcome as other clients, but most attorneys have a track record that gives you a general idea as to what they advise their clients to do.

If you were charged with murder, ask the lawyer how many murder cases they have helped on or been a criminal defense attorney for in the past.Pixabay

How Much Experience They Have In the County Your Charges Are In

One of the qualities that is often overlooked when looking for a criminal defense attorney is asking the lawyer how much experience they have handling criminal cases in the county that your charges stem from. Believe it or not, but criminal defense attorneys work hand-in-hand with prosecutors and judges every single day. A great criminal defense attorney will know what types of plea deals one prosecutor may accept or what types of plea deals one judge may accept. Prosecutors and judges work for specific counties, so having a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in the county where your charges stem from can help when it comes time to negotiate a potential plea deal or when determining what the attorney may or may not be able to get away with in the court room.

How Well You Can Communicate With the Criminal Defense Attorney

Communication between the party charged with a crime and a criminal defense attorney is so important. A defendant needs to be able to communicate well with their attorney and trust their attorney. Some people simply do not get along well together or do not communicate well together. While an attorney may be great, if their methods of communication do not align with yours, or you simply do not feel comfortable when you are talking to them, they may not be a great fit to be hired for your attorney. You want to find an attorney who puts you at ease, makes you feel comfortable and allows you to openly and honestly communicate about what you are thinking, feeling, and the details surrounding the charges that you have been charged with.

The Criminal Defense Attorney's Fees

In a perfect world, money would be the last thing that you would have to worry about when hiring a criminal defense attorney. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect and money is a huge concern for many people, especially if they are potentially looking at jail time. If you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney, you need to ask the attorney or law firm about their fees. Find out if they charge a flat fee to represent you, or charge by the hour. Some attorneys will accept payment plans, while others will make you pay upfront. Always talk to the attorney in depth about their fees, what they expect the costs to be for the entire case, and what potential payment plans or payment arrangements they may be willing to accept.

What Past Clients Have to Say About Working With the Criminal Defense Attorney

Anytime you are looking to hire an attorney, including criminal defense lawyer, you need to take the time to see what past clients have to say about the attorney. The Internet has made this easier to do than ever before. You can simply type in the lawyers name and then read reviews on multiple websites. While no attorney is going to be able to please all clients, you need to consider issues that seem to pop up over and over again in reviews. For example, if multiple reviews mention not being able to get ahold of an attorney, you know that communication may be an issue. On top of this, talk to people who are currently using the lawyer. Ask them if they are happy with the lawyer and if they would recommend the lawyer. Be wary of a lawyer that does not have any feedback and will not allow you to talk to any of their past clients.

If They Are Sympathetic and Compassionate

Being arrested and charged with a crime is embarrassing for most people. A great criminal defense attorney should understand that this is a trying time in your life, one of which you are not proud of. They should not berate you or make you feel bad. They should be compassionate about the position you are in and sympathetic to the worries, fears and anxieties about jail, trials or the future that you may have. If an attorney seems to be unsympathetic or is not caring, you may want to avoid that attorney. There are plenty of lawyers to pick from, and you need someone who can answer your questions, put you at ease and help you to understand things in a kind and compassionate manner.

Lawyers should have secretaries or legal assistants who can help to answer questions about your case, should any arise.Unsplash

How Communication Works With The Attorney and Their Office

A great criminal defense attorney has a system or routine. They may be in court most of the day defending clients, but they should also have secretaries or legal assistants who can help to answer questions about your case, should any arise. Always ask an attorney before you hire them how communication works within their office. Is there someone who will email you back if you have a question? Is there a specific timeframe the office has for returning phone calls? If you ever find yourself needing to immediately get a hold of your lawyer, is there a way to get a hold of him? The last thing you want to do is to hire an attorney and then find out they are nearly impossible to reach via phone, text or email. Asking this question and looking for this before you hire the attorney helps you to understand more about their communication process and how quickly the staff will get back to you.

Confidentiality and the Lawyer

You need to be able to trust your lawyer. A great lawyer will keep what you tell them confidential. This means that if your family is paying for an attorney, the attorney will not disclose what you tell them to your family. Always ask a lawyer about their confidentiality policies and what they do to keep details about your case private.

Who Will Be Handling Your Specific Case

The final bit of information that you need to consider or look for when you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney is who will be handling your case. One of the things that many law firms do is have you meet with an attorney for the initial consultation or intake process. That may simply be an attorney who is not at court that day. The attorney you meet with is not always the attorney who actually gets assigned your case. You want to know who is going to be handling your case, and you want the opportunity to talk to them before you retain a law firm to take on your case. As such, it is always important to ask the lawyer you meet with if they will be representing you, or if someone else in the law firm will be representing you. If they say someone else will be taking on the case, take the time to meet with that attorney and vet them.

The attorney you meet with is not always the attorney who actually gets assigned your case.Pixabay

There are many important qualities that you should look for as you go about hiring a criminal defense attorney for yourself or for a loved one who may be facing criminal charges. Learning about these qualities and keeping them in mind as you interview criminal defense lawyers can help you zero in on the lawyer who may be the best fit for you or your loved one's situation. If you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney, learning about their education, their experience, their communication style, their track record, and confidentiality are just a few of the things you should keep in mind.

Here at Ringer, Lingold & Spencer, we can help you if you are facing criminal charges. We work hard to defend you against the charges you are facing. On top of this, we can help with personal injury cases, and we are attorneys that can prove negligence to hep you win these cases. If you are looking for an attorney for a criminal case or a personal injury case, reach out to us. Call us now to schedule a consultation.

(Disclaimer: This is a sponsored article and contains some commercial links.)

Related Stories

No stories found.