Being charged with a crime can have grave long-term repercussions for you and your family. Finding an experienced criminal defense attorney who will best fit your needs and fight for your rights can make all the difference when it comes to winning or losing a criminal case. To ensure you obtain the best legal representation possible, there are a few important things to consider before hiring an attorney.
Look For Experience
Criminal law is complex, and having criminal lawyers who are skilled at handling cases similar to yours is an invaluable advantage. Many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses such as DUI, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement. There are a few questions you can ask to get a feel for a criminal defense attorney’s level of experience, including:
Which law school did you attend?
How many years of experience do have in criminal court?
Have you represented individuals who have been charged with the same or a similar crime?
How much of your practice involves representing people charged with this type of crime?
How many cases have you litigated in the court where my case will be assigned?
If a lawyer declines to discuss his or her specific experience or gives vague answers, look for someone else.
Hiring an attorney with experience in the court where your case is pending can also give you a leg up when it comes to your defense. Although state law is the same in each Pennsylvania court, procedures do vary from county to county. Attorneys who are used to working in a particular area often know the district attorneys, clerks, local law enforcement and judges and how they operate in court. For example, if you have been charged with a felony in West Chester, a Chester County felony lawyer will most likely knows the ins and outs of negotiating with prosecutors and the court procedure there.
Your criminal defense lawyer speaks for you. No matter how stellar an attorney’s reputation may be, if you don’t feel comfortable with the person it is probably best to find another lawyer to represent you.
Ask yourself these questions when considering whether to hire a particular criminal defense lawyer:
Is the attorney someone I trust and can speak with openly?
Does he or she explain things in a way that I can understand?”
Does the lawyer see me as a partner involved in the decision-making process?
Does he or she express personal concern for my overall situation and possess a sincere desire to help?
Does the lawyer seem to be a person who engenders trust in prosecutors, judges and jurors?