When a person is looking for an attorney to handle their criminal case, they are often wondering they need to ask in order to hire the right person to handle their case. Before hiring any criminal defense lawyer, it is essential to learn if the attorney has handled similar cases and has worked with local prosecutors in the past.
Consider asking the following questions of prospective defense attorneys when choosing one to represent you in court:
It is very important a person facing criminal charges understands that criminal law is complex and demands a thorough understanding of both the law and local criminal procedure that only an experienced criminal lawyer can offer. Individuals need to ask prospective attorneys how much of their practice is devoted to the area of defending criminal cases as the old adage of “jack of all trades but master of none” rings true when dealing with criminal defense.
When the attorney a person hires knows the local court system including the judges and prosecutors, it can make a world of difference in their case. While many clients believe they may be best served hiring an expensive Los Angeles attorney, that could be detrimental in their case as their lawyer will likely be unfamiliar with local prosecutors and judges, which can work in their favor. Ask the attorney if they have ever appeared in the court where the case will be pending and which prosecutors they have worked with in the past.
A high percentage of complaints people have when hiring a criminal attorney is that their case gets assigned to an associate lawyer whom they have never met, much less feel comfortable with. Ask a prospective attorney who will be responsible for handling your case, and whether it will be given to an associate who will use the case as a learning experience.
Be sure to get any and all conversations regarding money in writing. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is a big investment but when your freedom is on the line, price should not be the only objective. Be sure to ascertain what the fees cover – is it for pre-trial negotiation, or does the fee include trial representation? Is there an extra charge for investigators, expert witnesses or lab testing? If it is a felony case, does the fee include representation through trial, or just the preliminary hearing? Always make sure to fully understand what will be included in the price paid to the law firm.
Too many law firms promise good results but never deliver. If you speak with someone at the firm who is not an attorney and sounds like a car salesman, chances are they probably have been as many firms employ slick talking consultants more interested in the type of work you do (and how much they can charge) than listening to the facts of your case to determine the best legal defense. Some lawyers will say whatever they can to retain a client. Other attorneys will try and use the scare tactic to get retained. While past results cannot guarantee future performance, it is always better to hire an attorney who is familiar with local courts and prosecutors and has demonstrated ability to successfully handle similar cases than on a flashy sales pitch.
Client charged with possession for sales and gang enhancement. Client faced 16 years in prison with the gang and prior strike allegation. Client turned down 8 year pretrial offer with prior attorney before going to trial. Not guilty on all charges at trial. (People v. Antwan B.)
Client charged with attempt murder, accessory after the fact and gang enhancement after shots fired at a dwelling. Client turned down 15 year pretrial offer. During trial, plea deal reached for probation with time served. (People v. Rudy B.)
Client charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice when cops performed a probation sweep at her residence. Client found not guilty on all counts at jury trial. (People v. Felicia M.)
Client charged with corporal injury to girlfriend after argument allegedly escalated. Client had significant exposure of 21 years because of prior strike, probation violation and GBI allegation. At trial, jury refused to convict client, returning hung verdict. (People v. Christopher P.)
Client charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale after traffic stop. Client claimed prejudice by prosecution’s delay in bringing the case to court. Motion filed on behalf of client asking the Court to dismiss the case as violative of client’s speedy trial rights. Motion granted and case dismissed. (People v. Shannon J.)