Facing criminal charges can put you under a lot of pressure, so you’ll want to quickly hire a lawyer. Before you pick the first defense attorney who pops up in your Google search, though, take the time to ask some important questions. They’ll help you hire an attorney you feel comfortable with and think is most capable of achieving a successful outcome for you in court. Here are five questions to ask before hiring a criminal defense lawyer:
Is the initial consultation free?
Most criminal lawyers offer the first consultation for free. This is your chance to get to know each other and get a reading on whether you could have a cooperative relationship. In this meeting, the lawyer should ask about your criminal charges, the details of your arrest, your previous criminal history, and your educational and employment background. At the end of the meeting, the attorney will have a better sense of what to expect in your case and will give you a quote for their fees and services.
Is the defense attorney experienced in handling cases similar to yours?
When you’re facing criminal charges, you need to feel confident about your attorney’s experience and capabilities. Ask questions about the lawyer’s educational background and criminal defense experience. To find out more about their professional experience, ask about the percentage of cases they handle for clients facing charges similar to yours, what kind of relationship they have with the prosecutor’s office, and how often their clients go to trial.
Although there are many capable “general practice” lawyers, you need someone experienced in criminal law and who has dealt with many cases similar to yours.
What is the lawyer’s opinion on your case?
A criminal defense lawyer with years of practice in cases like yours will be able to give you a professional opinion about what you may expect. Your lawyer should not only answer your questions, but should also inform you about your options, what is in your favor or working against you, and how the whole process will work.
It’s unethical for a lawyer to guarantee specific results, however. Beware of anyone who promises a certain outcome.
Is the firm equipped to handle your case?
Putting a case together requires a lot of behind-the-scenes research and logistics work. So, you want to choose a lawyer who has enough qualified staff to manage the details of your case. This is not the time to be David facing down Goliath! A one or two person firm, for example, may not have the resources you need to effectively stand up against the manpower in the District Attorney’s office.
Other questions to ask about the firm include:
- Who will represent me in court, you or someone else?
- Who should I contact with questions?
- What’s the best way to get in touch?
- Will the firm handle appeals?
- Can I meet everyone who will be working on my case?
How much do you charge, and how are the fees structured?
Before hiring an attorney, have a direct conversation about their fees. You’ll want to work with the best lawyer you can afford without creating a financial burden for yourself.
Some lawyers will charge an initial retainer plus an hourly rate. Their rates can vary greatly and can get expensive if your trial lasts several months. Other lawyers charge a flat fee for pretrial motions and another rate if your case goes to court. Make sure you understand every service they’ll provide and how they charge for each.
No matter how their fees are structured, the lawyer charging the highest price may not be the most qualified for your case. Do be prepared, however, to pay more for a criminal defense attorney who has trial experience and a great reputation for aggressive representation.
Asking these questions before hiring a criminal defense lawyer should help you select the best attorney for your situation.
Contact a Chattanooga Defense Lawyer
Contact us at 423-531-2800 if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.