The United States locks more people in jail/prison than any other country in the world. That truth should be a harrowing one if you have a pending case where you could be facing jail time.
To give yourself the best odds of reducing your jail sentence or to avoid jail altogether, the best thing that you can do is hire a quality criminal defense lawyer.
Given the number of lawyers that are out there though, how can you be sure that you’re going to pick the right one?
There are a lot of factors that can affect how suited a lawyer is for your case. To ensure that you pair up with the best attorney possible, we recommend asking a prospective lawyer these 7 important questions.
1. How Long Have You Been in Practice?
There is a lot on the line when you’re fighting criminal charges. You could be facing down steep fees or maybe you’re even looking at losing years of your life due to a lengthy stint in prison.
Those high stakes mean that you want somebody in your corner that’s very experienced at defending your interests.
So then, it stands to reason that your first question when interviewing an attorney should revolve around how long they’ve been in practice.
If your attorney has just opened their doors in the last couple of years, we think you should look into criminal defense options that include legal teams who have been around the block a little longer.
2. What Percentage of Your Cases Go to Trial?
Trials can be time-consuming and are often hard to predict the outcome of. For many lawyers, those two truths lead them to want to avoid getting in front of a jury at all costs.
After all, a legal professional’s win/loss record is a big deal to preserving their reputation.
To come out on top without having to risk too much, many lawyers will try to force clients into a plea bargain.
Does your lawyer get the vast majority of his/her clients to cut deals? If so, you may be looking at an attorney that has no interest in representing you during a trial and consequently, you’ll want to look into other options.
3. What Sorts of Cases Do You Typically Handle?
Every attorney has a type of case that’s their bread and butter.
Maybe they try a ton of dog bite cases. Maybe car-accidents are their focus.
Understanding what your attorney’s typical case looks like can give you insight into how well suited they are to handle your type of case.
In case it wasn’t obvious, you’ll want to find a lawyer that defends criminal cases frequently.
4. What Do Your Services Cost?
Cost is always a consideration when hiring a criminal defense lawyer. That’s because many charge high hourly or flat rates that you need to pay despite the outcome that they’re able to get you.
See if you can afford your attorney’s stated rate. If you can’t and you really want to work with them, see if they can cut you a deal.
If there’s no wiggle room and you’re priced out, move on.
5. Will I Be Working With You Directly?
Many larger legal firms will have you meet with their best lawyer/salesman when you come in for a consultation.
That attorney will razzle-dazzle you with their experience and perspective on your case. Once you sign with them, you’ll then find that the person you met with has delegated your case to someone else.
If that’s a problem for you, make it known from the get-go.
Nobody likes to be bait-and-switched when it comes to their livelihood. If you tell the lawyer you meet with that being subjected to a council change is not acceptable, they’ll either promise to honor your wishes or you can continue your council search elsewhere.
6. How Long Will Everything Take
We get that during this difficult time in your life, you want to know when things are going to be resolved so that you can have something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to predict when criminal cases will come to a head. Still, based on your attorney’s experience, they should be able to give you a ball-park estimate that you can compare to other attorney’s estimates.
If you’re noticing that one of the attorneys you’ve interviewed is suggesting a time frame that’s much longer than what everybody else estimated, you’ll probably want to avoid that legal team.
7. Why Should I Choose You?
All of the suggestions that we’ve laid out up to this point will help you deduce why you should or shouldn’t choose a particular criminal defense lawyer. To help complete your perspective, ask your lawyer to sell themselves to you.
Any legal professional that isn’t willing to give you their elevator pitch on why they’re the best candidate for your case isn’t worth working with.
Our Final Thoughts on Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is an important process that can make or break the outcome of your case. To give yourself the best odds of avoiding serious consequences for the crime that you’re being accused of, follow our tips above and interview as many candidates as you have time for.
Once you find that special legal professional that ticks all of the boxes, hire them.
At Actwitty, we aim to make our reader’s lives smarter and easier. For more tips on how to hack your way towards a better existence, browse more of our content today!