You may never think you will need a criminal defense lawyer. However, you could find yourself facing criminal charges for a matter that you never anticipated. You could be involved in a drunk driving accident or an altercation with your neighbor resulting in a criminal charge.
Suddenly, you need to find good lawyers to handle your case.
Where do you begin to search for a criminal law attorney? Once you find a law firm, how do you know that the lawyers in the law firm are the right ones to handle your case?
We understand that choosing a criminal defense attorney can seem overwhelming. That is why we are giving you tips for choosing a criminal defense attorney.
Tips to Help You Find a Criminal Lawyer After Being Charged with a Crime
Tips that can help you find a criminal attorney after being charged with a crime include:
Search for a Lawyer With Experience Handling Your Type of Case
Understanding the nature of the crime you face is essential for choosing the right criminal lawyer to handle your case. First, you want an attorney that specializes in criminal law. You do not want to hire a personal injury lawyer if you are charged with assault and battery.
You need to hire a lawyer who handles cases similar to your case. Many lawyers list the types of cases they handle on their websites. Even though the attorney’s website states he handles specific types of criminal cases, ask the attorney what percentage of his cases fall into that category.
If you are facing murder charges, you want to hire a criminal defense attorney who has handled numerous murder cases instead of choosing a lawyer who has only handled one or two homicide cases.
State vs. Federal Court
Therefore, if your face federal criminal charges, choose a lawyer who practices in federal criminal courts. You do not want an attorney “learning the ropes” of a federal case at your expense.
Check Licensing and Reviews
Before you hire an attorney, check to ensure that the attorney is licensed to practice law in Texas. You can use the “find a lawyer” feature on the State Bar of Texas website. You can that the lawyer is eligible to practice in Texas.
The attorney bio includes a list of courts of admittance (courts that attorney can represent clients). It also provides information about the attorney’s practice, the date of bar admittance, and the date the attorney graduated from law school.
Some of the most valuable information is the public disciplinary history. If the attorney has been disciplined, you would want further information before hiring the lawyer.
Years of Experience
Many talented attorneys have been practicing for a short time. However, the years of experience an attorney has does matter. There are things that an attorney cannot learn in law school. There are skills that an attorney can only learn by practicing law in the real world.
However, experience is not the only criteria you want to look for when you hire an attorney. Experience does not equal sound legal advice or a strong attorney-client relationship. Consider all of the attorney’s qualifications when deciding if this attorney is right for you.
Reviews and Referrals
Make sure that you read reviews and testimonials from past clients. You can also read reviews from peer review websites. However, referrals may be the best way to choose a criminal defense lawyer.
If you know an attorney in another field of practice, ask the attorney who they would choose if they needed a criminal defense lawyer. The same applies if you know someone who works at the courthouse or with the justice system. Individuals in the justice system know which attorneys are reliable, having a winning record, and are respected by judges, peers, and court personnel.
You want an attorney with trial experience. While many criminal cases settle with plea agreements, your case may go to trial. Therefore, you want to choose a lawyer who has exceptional negotiating skills combined with aggressive and successful trial skills.
When an attorney settles all cases through plea deals, it could signal that the attorney is unwilling to go to court to protect the client’s best interest. The attorney may be only interested in resolving cases as quickly as possible to move on to the next client.
Ask About the Legal Team
Take a moment to learn more about the law firm staff members. When you retain a lawyer, you will be working with a legal team. You want to make sure that the law firm has the resources and staff members to handle your case and other cases simultaneously.
It is appropriate to ask about the legal experience of the people working on your case. You may also ask how long they have worked with the firm. Firms with inexperienced and new staff members may not be the best criminal defense law firm to handle your case.
Schedule a Consultation with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You may have several attorneys on your list of potential attorneys. Schedule initial consultations with each lawyer to discuss your case.
During your initial consultation, the attorney learns more about the criminal charges against you. Make sure to take any documents that relate to the criminal charges with you to the consultation. Expect to answer numerous questions for the lawyer. The more information he can gather about your criminal case, the better legal advice he can offer.
Documents to take with you to your initial consultation includes:
- Police reports
- Arrest documents
- Property search report
- Bail or bond documents
- Information regarding witnesses
- Any evidence you may possess
Organizing your documents into separate files before the consultation can assist the attorney and make the consultation more efficient.
Questions You Need to Ask During the Consultation
There are several questions you should ask during an initial consultation.
Questions to ask a criminal defense lawyer include:
- How long have you practiced criminal law?
- How many cases do you handle with the same charges I face?
- Do you belong to any professional organizations?
- Do you hold any specializations?
- How often do your cases go to trial?
- What is your success rate at trial?
- What are my legal options?
- What are the potential problems you foresee with my case?
- What factors are in my favor?
- Can you explain the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario?
- What is your fee schedule?
- What costs or other items are not included in your fee?
There could be other questions you might want to ask based on your circumstances. Writing down questions before the consultation can help you remember what you need to ask. It also gives you something to make notes and write down the attorney’s responses.
How Can a Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?
You might be tempted to represent yourself in court. However, that decision could result in harsh consequences.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you by:
- Analyzing your case and developing a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of beating the charges or avoiding jail
- Giving you an honest assessment of your case and legal advice regarding a plea deal versus going to court
- Identifying when your legal rights were violated
- Filing motions and documents on your behalf that benefits your case
- Negotiating with the prosecutor for a fair plea agreement
- Working to get you out of jail as quickly as possible
- Helping you understand the Texas justice system
A criminal defense attorney aggressively and tirelessly advocates for your best interest. Your attorney has access to resources you might not have access to if you represent yourself.
By hiring a Plano criminal defense lawyer, you put someone on your side who fights for your best interest. You give yourself a better chance of a positive outcome for your case.