It’s hard to listen to the radio or visit websites without hearing or seeing advertisements for several criminal defense law firms. With so many law firms, choosing the right one can seem overwhelming.
Do Some Preparation
Before you can even start looking at criminal defense law firms, you need to prepare. First, know your needs. If you haven’t already, you should write out important details of your case. This won’t only help you know your own needs, but will also help you speak about your case with a prospective lawyer.
After you’ve done that, think about what you wrote. Is there an area of specialty in which your lawyer should have experience? You might be dealing with theft charges, domestic violence charges, or driving under the influence. Not all criminal defense firms have experience handling every type of case. Some specialize in certain areas. That specialization means that they have more experience and are more likely to get you a good outcome.
There’s also a difference between federal and state charges. To fight a federal charge, you need the expertise of a federal attorney. If you have state charges, you should look for a lawyer who practices in the state where you committed the crime. Every state has different laws
You should also consider whether your charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. Just as some firms have areas of specialization, some firms deal more often with misdemeanors. A felony is a serious charge, so choosing a firm that handles felony cases on a regular basis can be critical to your case.
Another important step to take before choosing your lawyer is to understand what a defense attorney does and how the legal process works. Knowing these things can make you feel more comfortable when you’re speaking with a potential lawyer.
What to Look for
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can set out to find a criminal defense law firm.
1. Look online for a law firm that fits all the criteria you listed above
So, consider the location of the firm, whether they do federal or state cases, and the types of cases they usually try.
You can also look for a lawyer through criminal defense lawyer organizations. Find out what local organizations you have. Some of them offer online directories of criminal defense firms and others have a phone number you can call. Either way, they can help you find a lawyer.
Finally, you can always depend on references. If there’s a lawyer your employer uses for business, ask her if she can refer a lawyer in your specialty. Or, check with all of your friends and family. Find out if any of them have had experience with a criminal defense lawyer. Their references may be able to steer you in the right direction, or to push you away from the wrong choice.
2. Don’t be too trusting up front
Unfortunately, not all lawyers are good lawyers. There are some law firms out there that might try to scam you, so you have to be wary of them. Before you commit to anything, ask to look at a sample contract. And if they ask for money immediately (through the initial proceedings), be a little cautious. Check reviews online and be on the lookout for any reports of scamming by that particular firm. Lastly, be on the lookout for false promises. No lawyer can guarantee an outcome. Anyone who does is not being honest, and honesty is an important trait in your lawyer.
Set up a consultation
You need to be comfortable with your attorney. So before you decide on a law firm, you should set up a consultation with one of their lawyers. The consultation isn’t a contract; you’re free to decide to go with another firm if you’re unhappy with the how things go. It’s a good idea to have at least two different consultations so that you can pick a lawyer that fits your needs.
In the consultation, remember that you and your lawyer will be working together. If you don’t like the lawyer’s ethics, it may not be a good fit. Pay attention to speech and body language- a good lawyer will be aware of these things. And if there’s anything you don’t like about the lawyer, meet with another one. There are plenty of options to choose from, so don’t settle.
The right law firm
Finding the right criminal defense firm is a little like finding a partner. You need to look around and test the waters, but the right fit is out there. With the right fit, you and your law firm can make a great team.