Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in need of the services of a criminal defense attorney. If you ever do, though, it’s imperative that you choose one qualified to provide you with aggressive representation. Depending on the nature of your crime, a conviction could limit your employability, have significant financial consequences, and even result in you spending years behind bars.
You don’t want that to happen. To guard against such consequences, ask the criminal defense lawyers certain questions during the vetting process. This will help you better determine which are best able to handle your case.
Questions to ask a criminal defense attorney include the following:
What do you think the outcome of my case will be?
After reviewing the details of your case, which most lawyers will do for free, an attorney should have a general sense of what the outcome will be. There’s no way for an attorney to know for certain whether you’ll be found not guilty, be offered a plea deal, or be offered a light sentence, but a basic review will provide most attorneys with an idea of how your case may be resolved.
Pay attention to how an attorney answers this question. You may want to hear them promise that you’ll be able to avoid conviction entirely. However, while that may be what you think you want to hear, it shouldn’t be.
That’s because an attorney can’t make such promises. One who does is desperate for your business. That desperation is likely a sign of inexperience or a negative reputation.
Instead, you want to hire an attorney who answers this question with what seems to be genuine honesty. They should also be willing to go into some degree of detail when explaining why they believe a certain outcome may be achievable.
Have you handed cases specifically like mine in the past?
Criminal defense doesn’t refer to defending those charged with one type of crime. For example, if you’re being accused of committing white collar crime, you need an attorney who specializes in these types of cases. An attorney who mainly works with young people accused of minor drug crimes isn’t qualified to serve your needs.
An attorney’s willingness to go into the specific details of past cases may be limited due to attorney-client privilege. However, they should be able to cite examples of cases like yours that they’ve handled before in general terms.
Do you have any testimonials?
Most criminal defense attorneys will claim they can provide you with effective representation. Even those who aren’t necessarily desperate for your business still want your business to some degree. They're not going to limit their chances of getting you to sign on as a client by admitting they’re not up to the job.
You can’t necessarily trust an attorney to represent their skills with absolute transparency. Even an otherwise honest lawyer may not be entirely truthful when they claim they can deliver results. They might even think they’re qualified to represent you, when in reality, they aren’t.
That’s why you want to ask for testimonials from former clients. Hearing reviews from those they’ve served in the past will help you better determine whether they’ll be able to serve you adequately.
It’s also smart to check independent online platforms where clients can review their attorneys. After all, an attorney may please enough clients to generate a few positive testimonials, while nevertheless failing to satisfy the majority of their clients. An independent platform can host reviews an attorney has no control over.
Most importantly, don’t rush into this decision. Yes, you shouldn’t delay too long when hiring an attorney, as they’ll need time to review the details of your case, but you also shouldn’t choose the wrong one just to hire an attorney fast. That’s less likely to happen if you ask these questions and pay attention to the answers you receive.
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