Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer

by Nancy

Criminal defense lawyers defend clients charged with various crimes. Read tips for hiring the right criminal defense lawyer for your case today.

Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime? Hiring a criminal defense lawyer to defend you in court often makes a positive impact on the result of your case. Knowing what to expect from a criminal defense attorney helps you choose the best representation for your situation. Asking the right questions also helps you know what to expect from your case.

What are some important questions to ask a criminal defense lawyer? How do you choose the best attorney for your case? All practicing lawyers are highly trained educated professionals who passed a state bar examination prior to receiving a license. Knowing what your lawyer can and cannot do helps you set proper expectations for the outcome of your case. Choosing a lawyer you relate to and who understands your situation also helps you feel more comfortable in court. Read ahead to discover tips for hiring the right criminal defense lawyer for your case today.

Criminal Defense Lawyers – Expectations

When you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime it is natural to feel aggravated and confused. This is true whether you committed the crime(s) or not. Hiring a criminal defense attorney helps you set expectations going forward for case procedures, protocol and potential outcomes. What should you expect from a criminal defense attorney?

Questions & Consultations

Criminal defense attorneys are hired privately (by or on behalf of you) or assigned to your case by a court. Private attorneys often schedule a brief consultation to assess the viability of your case. The first expectation you should have as a potential client is to be asked numerous pointed questions with the intention of assessing your innocence/guilt – and if your case is winnable. Innocence/guilt are not necessarily determining factors in whether an attorney takes your case or not. This type of assessment rather helps an attorney understand if your situation is defensible in court. Privately hired attorneys are not obligated to take your case. A lawyer who deems your case as unwinnable will reject it to protect his or her reputation and your finances.

Understanding Facts

A court-appointed attorney does not have the luxury of accepting or rejecting your case, however. The expectations of a court-appointed attorney and a private attorney (after accepting your case) are similar. The priority of a criminal defense attorney is to understand all possible and available facts pursuant to your charges. Are the charges against you legitimate? If so, were they filed correctly and without error? Were any of your rights violated during the filing of the charges or during the arrest? Expect your attorney to ask a series of questions meant to help him or her understand all relevant details pursuant to your case.

Casting Doubt

Your criminal defense attorney is tasked with casting doubt about your guilty status. In criminal cases the prosecuting is burdened with proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Expect your lawyer to find ways to make a judge and/or jury second-guess the possibility of your guilt.

Sentencing & Appeals

In the event you are found guilty your criminal defense lawyer attempts to get you the lightest, shortest sentence possible. Appeals might also be filed to challenge the guilty verdict against you. Some sentences include hefty fines and your lawyer’s job also includes:

  • Reducing your fine amount(s).
  • Submitting plea-bargains, which offer an exchange of your cooperation for more lenient sentencing.
  • Submitting requests for community service and/or parole instead of incarceration.

Additional Expectations

The job of a criminal defense attorney is often challenging and intense. Many more aspects are involved in addition to defending you in court. Expect your lawyer to document statements from witnesses made both for and against you. Also expect him or her to prepare favorable witnesses for court appearances. Additional expectations for your criminal defense lawyer include:

  • Understanding & explaining laws & regulations in your state as they pertain to your case.
  • Searching for nuances & loopholes to use in your favor.
  • Creating an effective strategy to win your case.
  • Filing all applicable paperwork.
  • Guiding you on court etiquette, appearance/dress and behavior.
  • Explaining your chances of winning/losing your case clearly & honestly.

Questions to Ask

The first question to ask a private attorney is how much he or she will charge to take on your case. Ask what you need to do to make your case as winnable as possible. Criminal cases are frustrating and challenging for clients. Asking your lawyer about best and worst-case scenarios might give you possible peace of mind when dealing with positive and negative changes as your case develops. This means asking hard questions about what happens if you lose your case, especially if incarceration is a possible result. Ask your lawyer about his or her win/loss record and the reasons your case was accepted. Finally, ask about timing expectations. How long will my case take to be resolved? How much longer will it take if an appeal must be filed?

What if I Cannot Afford an Attorney?

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution declares all U.S. citizens are entitled to free legal representation in defense against criminal charges provided incarceration is a potential result and other specific conditions are met. If you cannot afford your own attorney, the court will appoint one for you provided you meet all qualifying conditions.

What Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Cover?

Criminal defense attorneys cover cases involving misdemeanor and felony crimes. Misdemeanors include DUI, petty theft, restraining order violations & illegal drug charges. Felonies are more serious but what constitutes a felony varies per state. Homicide, burglary, rape, grand theft auto and illegal fireman possession are all examples of felonies, but each state interprets and punishes these crimes differently.

Tips for Hiring the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

Make certain you and your attorney have matching personalities suitable for winning your case. For example, your comfort level with your attorney is crucial to how comfortable you feel and how well you present yourself in court. Next, research attorneys on Google and Yelp to find word-of-mouth reviews from former clients. Finally, take advantage of the following resources for finding criminal defense lawyers near you: