It’s incredibly serious and can be incredibly stressful to be accused of a federal crime. It may be overwhelming to think of all the possibilities the future holds, which is why it’s so important to vet and hire a criminal defense attorney right away. If this is your first offense, even this initial and critical step can feel like it’s an insurmountable task. How do you know what to look for in a criminal defense attorney? How do you choose the right one for your unique case and circumstances? Facing criminal charges, no matter what they are, is bound to be one of the hardest experiences a person can go through. This is why it is essential to understand the importance of hiring a highly skilled and reputable criminal defense attorney. The outcome of your case, and potentially your life, depends on the skill of this lawyer. An aggressive advocate is what you’ll need to guide you through a federal indictment, and potentially a trial.
The First Things to Consider When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
- Choose the right type of lawyer. The very first thing to do is to research lawyers that specialize in the exact time of case you’ll be involved in. You wouldn’t want a divorce lawyer to represent you in a criminal case.
- Make sure their experience lines up with your case. If you’re facing charges in federal court for white-collar crime, for example, you’ll want someone who is deeply familiar with white-collar crime. Finding a lawyer with the right experience without getting too niche can be an issue, which is why this is a first step in narrowing down the search. It isn’t necessary to find a lawyer who is as familiar with a specific law or statute. It is important, however, that your future lawyer has been successful in winning cases within the type of case you’re involved in.
- Communication is key. Once hired, your criminal defense lawyer will be your most trusted ally. Find someone who is easy to communicate with, and who communicates clearly with you. Even though you should do your own research into your case, and the specific laws and precedent surrounding it, it is your lawyer’s job to make sure you understand your rights, the charges brought against you, and the important factors surrounding your case. Additionally, some lawyers will simply tell you what you want to hear- which is that you’ll win your case, without a doubt. This may not be true, and you need to hire someone who will offer a genuine and thoughtful assessment of your case.
- Verify the price. The cost of retaining a criminal defense attorney will vary depending on the case. The more complex the case, the higher you’re likely going to have to pay to retain services. Lawyers are known to charge by the hour, or by a flat fee with additional costs for other add-on services. You’ll want to verify the fee structure with any lawyer you consider before you decide who to hire.
- Schedule a consultation. Many lawyers offer free consultations so you can meet face to face. This is always a great opportunity to take because you’ll want to get a better feel for which lawyer deeply understands your needs and needs of the case.
Things to Avoid When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
- Don’t necessarily hire that family friend. While it’s not bad to mine your network and get recommendations for a criminal defense lawyer from your friends and family, you want to avoid hiring a friend’s friend just because someone you know and love knows them. Your life could depend on this case. It’s important to hire the right type of lawyer to represent you properly.
- Don’t wait to hire a lawyer. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when facing an indictment or an arrest is to delay hiring a criminal defense attorney.
- Don’t hire a lawyer who is going to automatically take a plea deal. A plea bargain is only one of three options you have if charged with a federal crime.
- Don’t interfere with your defense. This could include talking to authorities without discussing with your lawyer or destroying relevant documents. It’s your lawyer’s job to know how to navigate this process.
- Don’t make assumptions. An arrest is not the same thing as a conviction.
Finding and hiring the right criminal defense attorney is essential to a successful indictment and trial during the federal criminal justice process. Don’t delay - find the right lawyer for your case today