Updated: Apr 10
Find a Local Lawyer
Hiring an attorney that knows the local prosecutors and judges can be essential to a better outcome in your criminal case. Everyone has different bargaining styles, and we all get used to working with the same people, and we learn how they think and what it takes to get them a little more on our side. If you see that your attorney is Facebook friends with the prosecutors or judges, this is not a terrible thing. Personal relationships can be beneficial when it comes time to sit at the bargaining table. When you talk to a defense attorney you consider hiring, ask them how familiar they are with your court and prosecutors.
Someone With Trial Experience
An attorney with trial experience is vital because prosecutors know who is willing to take a case to trial and who isn’t. If a prosecutor thinks they have a weak case and knows the defense attorney is willing to go to trial, the plea deals will be better than an attorney who won’t take the case to trial. However, sometimes the prosecution knows they have a stronger case, and it isn’t easy to get them to budge on a better deal if they know they will likely be successful at trial. If your attorney tells you that the prosecution has a strong case, you should listen to their advice. Clients often think they have a strong chance at trial based on a legally insignificant fact. Your attorney will be able to advise you best on what points make your case legally strong or weak. Although an attorney can advise you on whether a deal is good or bad, the ultimate decision to take the deal or turn it down is yours and yours alone. Here are some things to consider before taking a plea deal.
Someone With a Good Reputation Among Other Attorneys
Local attorneys know the reputation of other attorneys in the area, and we all have a reputation. Even if you don’t know any attorneys, you can call around and ask about other attorneys and get referrals. Contacting an attorney that doesn’t practice criminal defense can be an excellent way to get an honest referral without talking to someone with skin in the game. A good reputation among fellow attorneys is more important than a Google review. No attorney can please everyone every time, and some reviews are fake. There are bound to be negative reviews for any great attorney, but building a good reputation among the local legal community is a much bigger deal. Other attorneys know what makes a good attorney.
A Clear Fee Agreement
You should know how much you are paying upfront and how far that will get you through the case. Most criminal defense attorneys charge flat rates, which means you pay one set price no matter the attorney’s number of hours. Since many cases end up being resolved before trial, it is better if the attorney has a separate charge for trial; this will save you from paying for a trial that you may not end up in anyways.
A Lawyer Who Will Talk to You Before You Pay
You should be comfortable with any attorney you hire. Criminal charges can be devastating to your life, and you are counting on a competent attorney to guide you through. An attorney should talk to you and answer some of the initial questions before you decide to hand over thousands of dollars. No attorney has a crystal ball and cannot promise that you will get the results you want, but being comfortable with someone is critical because there needs to be a certain level of mutual trust.
THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONTACT A LICENCED ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE FOR LEGAL ADVICE.