6 Tips to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Choosing a Alabama criminal defense attorney can be a difficult task, especially with all of misleading advertisements you are bombarded with every day on the radio and television. Further, you are scared and worried about how being charged with a crime can affect you, your family and your job. Don’t let your mind run wild without getting a free consultation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who has your best interest in mind, not their own. If you or your loved one has been called by an investigator or you have been charged with a crime, you should immediately talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. However, you should never simply hire the first attorney that you talk to on the phone or in person. You do not want to make a mistake by hiring the first attorney you talk to who may be overcharging you or unqualified to handle your case. If you are looking for a Decatur or Huntsville, Alabama criminal defense attorney, here are 6 tips to help you make an informed decision.
- Look for an Experienced Local Attorney: Your defense attorney should be familiar with your type of case. Ask questions and make sure they have handled similar cases in the past and how they turned out. Also make sure that they have practiced in the same courts that are handling your case. Knowing the judges, prosecutors and local rules are essential in dealing with your case. Often times that means hiring a local attorney rather than someone from another county with no track record in the court where your case is pending. Different cities and different counties often have different programs, procedures and rules of court. Lastly, hiring your own attorney who is only worried about your case is a good idea. An attorney appointed by the court who has a stack of cases may be unable to put in the time necessary to properly prepare your case.
- Reviews and Reputation: Remember, all reviews are not real or equal. Be wary of attorneys that have hundreds of reviews that pop up quickly and of reviews that all sound the same. Google tries to monitor fake reviews, but there are always people trying to outsmart Google. You can tell real reviews from ones done by the attorneys, secretaries or family members.
- Family and Friends: Most of our clients come to us from referrals from past clients, and referrals from other attorneys. Family and friends who have had a good experience with a law firm can often guide you in the right direction. Hiring an attorney off television, a billboard or a radio broadcast without more, is never a good idea. You often end up with an attorney who you may never meet and who may have never handled your type of case. Big media law firms often hire young inexperienced attorneys to handle large case loads.
- Hire One Attorney: That seems like common sense but people hire one attorney and they never see them again. You hire one attorney and the attorney that shows up in court is someone else who knows nothing about you or your case. Your attorney should recognize you when they get to the courtroom and you should recognize your attorney. The attorney who interviews you should be the attorney that comes to court, unless something unusual happens. Sometimes because of court conflicts there is nothing you can do. Just know up front who you are paying for and how much you are paying. Are you hiring an associate with less experience or a seasoned partner who has been practicing criminal law for 30 years. If you are paying a higher price for a partner, does that mean the results could be different? You need to know. You might get the same results for half the price.
- Appearance and Communication Skills: When you talk to your attorney, are they easy to talk to and understand? Do they seem caring and knowledgeable about your type of case? Does their appearance make you feel comfortable about them and how they will look in court to the judge and other attorneys. Appearance and personality matters in dealing with other attorneys, judges and jurors. If they do not reflect well on you, they probably will not reflect well with a jury either. Professionalism matters and how they are viewed in court can matter in the outcome of your case.
- Attorney Fees: Criminal defense lawyers charge different fees in different cases. Lawyers also charge different rates based on the experience of the attorneys. Make sure you know if you are paying a retainer, flat fee or just hourly. Also know the hourly rate for the attorney and anyone else in your case. Are you paying for paralegal fees and investigator fees in your case? Make sure everything is in writing so that you don’t get a surprise at the end of the case.
If not dealt with satisfactorily, criminal charges can have a devastating impact on you and your family. Make a wise and informed decision about who you hire in your case. There are a lot of good criminal defense attorneys that do appointed work and a lot of good criminal defense attorneys that don’t do appointed work. Talk to more than one attorney and make sure you hire the right attorney for you.