If you have been arrested for or charged with a criminal offense—no matter how serious—it is imperative to speak with a lawyer. While you are able to obtain court-appointed counsel, public defenders typically have an extremely high caseload and may not provide the attention and time necessary to help you obtain a favorable result.
If you are considering hiring a private criminal defense attorney, the task of choosing the right one for your case can be daunting. Most criminal defense attorneys offer prospective clients a free initial consultation to assess the nature of your case.
The following are considerations that may help you make the best choice possible:
- Experience – The number of years a lawyer has been practicing criminal defense is one of the most important factors to consider. You should ask how much experience the attorney has defended against the charges you face. Most criminal defense lawyers have a specific niche area that they focus on—such as DUI or violent crimes. Your best bet is to go with an attorney who is familiar with your type of case.
- Local familiarity – Having an attorney who is familiar with the judge and prosecutor in the court you’ll be going to is quite beneficial. For example, a lawyer might know that a certain judge is especially harsh with sex crime offenders and to, therefore, avoid that judge’s courtroom when defending against sex crime charges.
- Costs – In order to avoid any future disputes, you must find out how much you’ll be paying for your case ahead of time. Lawyers typically either charge an hourly or flat rate. Always ask what the flat fee covers. It is also wise to ask whether the attorney expects any other fees, such as investigations or expert witnesses.
- Comfort – You want an attorney to be someone with whom you are personally comfortable with. The best lawyer-client relationships are those in which clients are full partners in the decision-making process. Do not hire an attorney that treats you like just another case number.