If you need defending in a criminal case, you want to get the best criminal lawyer you can afford. But how exactly do you weed out the good lawyers from the bad? Here are some questions you should be prepared to ask when interviewing with attorneys to potentially defend your case.
Background and expertise as criminal lawyer
- How many jury trials have you been involved with? It’s important to get a lawyer who is comfortable going to trial. Many lawyers aren’t very confident in trials, and it’s a good idea to find a lawyer who has at least a few dozen trials under his or her belt.
- How much of your practice is devoted to criminal law? Some attorneys devote themselves to a number of specialties. For example, if you’ve been charged with burglary, you don’t need a lawyer who primarily defends DUI suspects. Be sure to find a lawyer who devotes at least 50 percent of their time to criminal law.
- Are you local? Sometimes, attorneys will advertise in areas they have no real intention of ever serving. It’s critical to find an attorney who’s familiar with the county you’ve been charged in. They’ll likely know local prosecutors and judges, which can greatly improve your case’s outcome.
- How long have you practiced criminal law? A good rule of thumb is to hire an attorney who has at least 10 years of experience in criminal law.
Legal fees and extra expenses
- Do you charge an hourly rate or flat fee? Rates are often competitive. As a general rule, lawyers with a strong reputation may charge more. However, it’s important to remember that the most expensive lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is the most qualified lawyer.
- If the fee is low, ask why. A low fee can be an indicator of an inexperienced lawyer. It may also be a sign that he or she handles a high case load and pleads out for most clients without exploring other legal options.
- Are there other costs I’d have to pay? Can you give me an estimate? Other expenses may include retainer fees, referral fees and contingency fees, depending on the lawyer and your case.
Management of case
- Will you be the attorney actually handling my case? Sometimes, law firms will have first-time clients initially speak to a more experienced lawyer but then assign the case to a less experienced lawyer.
- Will there be other lawyers working on my case as well? If you’re willing to hire a lawyer to defend your case, of course you should make sure that he or she will be the one who’s primarily handling it.
- Would you recommend a plea agreement? Experienced lawyers are often very good at predicting the outcomes of cases. If he or she speaks honestly to you about the possible outcomes of the case, positive and negative, you’re likely speaking to someone who is engaged and devoted to your case.
- Do you see future problems with my case if we do go to trial? If you have an attorney who makes unrealistic and outlandish promises, he or she is probably more concerned with happily accepting your money rather than providing a strong defense.
Hire a lawyer in Vancouver, Washington
The highly experienced attorneys of Northwest Legal Advocates represent defendants in a multitude of criminal cases. Contact us for a free consultation.