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Questions You Should Ask to Hire the Best Criminal Defense Attorney for You

Drew Duncan
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan and Cole, LLP

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney fast. However, you want to hire a lawyer who can help you achieve the most favorable outcome given your specific circumstances since a criminal conviction can have wide-ranging consequences for the rest of your life. Therefore, you will want to obtain referrals for a few criminal defense attorneys and be prepared to interview them at your first appointment.

Ask These Questions At Your First Appointment

A good criminal defense attorney should be able to explain the charges against you, any defenses you have, what plea bargains may be offered, and the possible sentence you can expect. To determine whether an attorney is the best one for you, you will want to ask him the following questions at your first appointment:

  • How long has he practiced criminal law? Criminal law is a very specialized area of law and a good defense can involve many procedural and constitutional issues, like the validity of a breathalyzer test or whether the police had probable cause to stop you. This is a constantly evolving area of law, and you need an attorney who has a lot of experience handling these cases and stays up to date on the law and possible defenses.
  • How many jury trials has he handled? While most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains, you want an attorney who is comfortable handling a jury trial if necessary and can conduct one competently—something not all attorneys can do. If the prosecutor knows your attorney never goes to trial, he would be less likely to offer you a favorable plea agreement.
  • How much of the attorney’s practice is criminal law? You want an attorney who regularly devotes a substantial amount of his practice to criminal defense. An attorney who handles only a few criminal cases a year will not have the expertise you need.
  • Will this attorney be the one handling your case? Some attorneys have less experienced associates in the firm handle cases after initially meeting with clients. You want to be certain the attorney you are interviewing is the one who will handle your case.
  • Is the attorney local? You want a local attorney who is familiar with local police, prosecutors, and judges. These relationships will help him understand the likely outcome of your case and will enable him to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement for you if this is in your best interest.
  • How would the attorney handle your case? You want to understand how the attorney plans to handle your case, including what investigation he would conduct and the pre-trial motions he anticipates filing. You will also want him to explain all the possible outcomes you face without making false promises he can’t keep.
  • How much will it cost?  The attorney should explain his fees to you and when you are expected to pay them. While you want to be certain you can afford the fee, you do not want to hire an attorney because he is the cheapest as you most likely would be paying for a substandard defense.

If you were charged with a crime, we urge you to fill out our online form or start an online chat today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our experienced criminal attorneys can assist you.

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