It comes often without warning and can be among the most challenging times for you and your family. Whatever the circumstances, when you face a run-in with the law, you need a reliable, trustworthy criminal defense attorney who gets you the right result.
The first step is the consultation, a crucial stage to enlightening you to the reality of your situation. It may be painful but facing up to the charges and possible punishments is the first step in delivering you through the ordeal.
Attorneys are there for precisely this reason. They have specific qualifications (and you should be encouraged to ask for their credentials before engaging their services) and experience in various fields. Enquire as to this experience and areas of expertise so that your attorney has a track record that suggests they can help you. For example, if you are accused of breaking a state law, hire a state attorney rather than a federal one.
Although, arguably, just as important as a history of work in your type of case is how you personally feel about them. The result is what matters, but trust is essential in such personal matters. Your livelihood and reputation are on the line. A great criminal defense attorney will respect this, encouraging a two-way street of trust and openness. This entails you being frank and giving them every chance to get you on the right side of the court’s decision. Your attorney should be a brilliant communicator, not just in court but also with you and your family.
Make sure your criminal defense attorney belongs to the County and State Bar Associations. More qualified attorneys may also belong to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers or the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section. Discover what school they went to and how highly their qualification is respected in the field. Some attorneys have taught at law school, which requires high discipline and work, so can often be a bonus.
Some major cities or states have criminal defense lawyer associations. These can be an excellent starting point to choose your attorney. Cost could well be high, so work out up front what method of payment works best for your situation. Meet your lawyer and then find out who, in addition to them, will be working your case. What happens if the attorney gets sick or becomes suddenly unavailable?
Your attorney will be looking to identify the key issues of the case, issue motions to support you and defend your rights at every stage. They will be negotiating and seeking every little piece of information to give them leverage for you.
When making the important decision of which criminal defense attorney will represent you or your loved one, ask them about a similar case that they have handled in the past. Even if the verdict wasn’t what you want to hear, did they do their best possible for their client? Do they have validated testimonials from satisfied clients that were in just the same situation you are now? That’s what matters most.