You thought you had waited long enough at your friends house after the party but the breathalyzer is telling a different story – a DUI is in your immediate future. Perhaps the jerk sitting next to you at the bar finally got under your skin and, in a moment of weakness, you lost your cool and now a have an assault charge against you. No matter how you arrived at this point, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney. This can seem like a daunting task since being arrested is very intimidating and it is important to get the best legal representation possible.
Hopefully, these tips and pointers will start you down the proper road to hiring a lawyer that will represent you well. When looking for an attorney, consider the following:
1) Make sure the attorney you hire has experience with your type of offense. Defending a felony narcotics possession is very different from defending a DUI. When interviewing an attorney, be sure to ask you much experience he or she has with your type of case.
2) Talk to your friends. It may be possible that they know somebody who has had to hire a criminal defense attorney. A referral is an excellent way to meet a good attorney as the referring person can let you know how the attorney did on all aspects of the case.
3) Any attorney you are looking to hire should offer a free initial consultation. This might be 10 minutes on the phone if you are in custody or 30 minutes if you are able to meet in person with the attorney. Do not hold back – be very upfront and honest about your situation. If you aren’t providing full disclosure, it can negatively impact your case and cause extra expense. Be wary of any attorney that will not provide a free initial consultation or demands payment for this time
4) During the initial consultation, ask who will be handling your case. Many high profile criminal defense attorneys have their associates do all the work. You may be okay with this but many people want the attorney they speak with to handle their case directly. In general, the more well known the attorney is the more likely he or she will be less involved in your case.
5) Make sure the terms of the engagement are clearly spelled out. Be sure to ask what the rates are for negotiating a plea agreement and any other stages up to and including trial. Rates can vary dramatically from attorney to attorney and you can avoid a big surprise by asking about them up front. An up front retainer fee after the initial consultation is usually required. This fee may be many thousands of dollars depending upon the offense with which you are charged.
6) Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable with the attorney and the firm. You will be working with these people on a very intimate part of your life. Feeling insecure about the working relationship will do nothing to help you or your mental health. Listen to your gut. If something feels off, keep shopping for an attorney until you are sure you can be completely comfortable with him or her.
If nothing else, these tips should give you a starting point to begin looking for a lawyer to professionally and effectively represent you. If you have had an unfortunate run in with the police, take the first step and call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.