Legal problems arise without warning. What may have started out as a normal day could end in an arrest. Both state and federal criminal codes present hundreds upon hundreds of pages of statutes. Sometimes, people don’t even realize they are in violation of the law until an arrest warrant is served. Regardless of the circumstances behind an arrest and pending criminal proceedings, hiring a solid criminal defense attorney must become a top priority.
Not everyone knows, however, how to determine what criminal defense attorneys are quality ones. That creates more stress in an already stressful scenario. Hiring the wrong attorney could lead to disaster. Taking steps to quickly examine the traits of a top defense lawyer could someone in a difficult situation address serious legal woes.
Check Online Reviews
Yes, people do post reviews about their experiences with attorneys. The reviewers frequently go into detail about the circumstances of their case along with how the situation was handled. Granted, reviews for the same attorney may vary. Not everyone has the same relationship. Read the reviews and try to gain a picture of what to expect from the attorney. While the reviews may be a bit checkered based on the clients’ personal attitudes, the reviews should provide some insights.
Seek a Specialist
“Criminal defense attorney” is a broad way to describe a professional. A criminal defense attorney could very well handle a multitude of different charges and cases. Yet, his/her skill level might not be equal across all types of charges. Seeking out an attorney that specializes in a particular area of defense could prove beneficial. An attorney who uniquely specializes in drug-related charges might devise a very strong defense for someone charged with felony possession. Another attorney, one who doesn’t specialize in drug charges, might never be able to craft the necessary reliable defense.
Years of experience handling a particular criminal offense gives an attorney unique insight into how to address related charges. An attorney without such specialized knowledge might not be about to mount an exceptional defense. This could be the situation even if he/she wishes to deliver the best possible job.
Inquiry about Previous Client Outcomes
Attorneys do compile a track record based on the outcomes of their clients’ cases. Look at the outcomes of the cases that went to trial. Determine how many concluded with “not guilty” vs. “guilty” verdicts. A significant number of “not guilty” verdicts should boost confidence in anyone facing charges. Granted, no one knows what a jury will decide. Still, a skilled attorney knows when to take a case to trial if doing so reflects the best interests of the client.
Of course, a significant number of cases never go to trial. Many end with withdrawals, dismissals, and plea bargains. An attorney that consistently achieved dismissals and withdrawals for clients clearly knows how to challenge the merits of charges.
Plea bargains can be a bit more complicated to assess. Few wish to plea bargain and enter a guilty or no contest plea to any charges. Depending on a defendant’s particular circumstances, a plea bargain might be the best route to go. A highly-qualified attorney should be able to negotiate the most reasonable and equitable plea bargain for a client. An attorney should not, however, pressure a client to accept a terrible plea bargain just to close out a case. Ask the attorney about his/her previous plea bargains and how all plea bargains are negotiated.
The Necessary Effort
Simply hiring the first attorney who returns a phone call might not be the best decision. Since the seriousness of criminal charges cannot be overstated, do what is required to retain the services of the best possible attorney.