We all hope to live our lives without any interruption whatsoever. Sometimes, the unexpected, happens. If that unexpected event puts you on the criminal side of a situation – you must be prepared with a good defense and criminal attorney. But how do you find the right criminal attorney?
First, you need to look for someone with experience in criminal defense. Sure you could use your college roommate who is fresh out of law school… Do you really want to risk your future like that? I am pretty sure I would never want a brain surgeon fresh out of college – I want someone who has been there and done that and knows what to expect and can handle the unexpected. That is what an experienced criminal attorney brings to the table. They can handle the unexpected and can easily handle the expected.
Area of Expertise
Whatever your infraction is – find an attorney who has experience with your particular situation. I recommend hiring a firm who has various expertise in criminal matters but your attorney should have experience in your situation. If something comes up – they will have a firm with various expertise to draw upon for assistance and guidance if necessary.
Hire someone who is available more than just 9am-5pm. Don’t hound them over every small matter – but when something big happens, you want to be able to reach your attorney. Speed is essential – waiting til the morning or a Monday morning in some cases is not beneficial. In fact it can be quite detrimental. Think of that brain surgeon – if I have an aneurysm I want that surgeon asap. Monday would be far too late. But should I contact him for a hangnail? Of course not. Be patient with the small things – but act on the big!
Flexible Fee Structure
Most people don’t plan to be in a criminal situation – but they sure need help if they do. Find an attorney that has options – both a fixed and flexible fee structure. We recently hired an attorney (civil) and we did not have a retainer. She agreed to work by the hour. The hourly fee was more expensive than if we paid the large up front retainer, but it helped us get the process moving.
If you asked me a year ago I would say I don’t think this one matters much. But in civil court over the last year I have seen how certain judges interact with certain attorneys. You definitely do not want an attorney who may have a poor rapport with the judge(s) you expect to be in front of. You may not be able to judge a person’s reputation prior to being in need, but you can find a great deal out by googling attorney and judge names…
Integrity and Compassion
Your criminal defense attorney should respect you and your decisions. They should provide guidance based on their expertise and experience but it is after all your life. He/she should be aggressive when necessary but not deceitful. When you meet, your attorney should ask you many questions – but they should also listen too. Often the most important information is not the result of a direct question but more about where that question leads the interview.