After you’re charged with a crime, you may panic. You may start thinking about worst-case scenarios. You may not want to tell anyone, but you know you want the best criminal defense attorney on your side in the courtroom. How do you find the best criminal defense attorney? Here are four questions to ask a criminal defense attorney that will help you decide if they are the best for you.
- Tell me about your legal experience.While there are many attorneys out there, you want an attorney who focuses on criminal defense. If you wouldn’t go to a heart surgeon to help with a broken bone, you shouldn’t go to a business attorney to help you with a criminal charge. You want an attorney who goes to court multiple times a week on criminal cases, not once in awhile. You want an attorney with experience dealing with the type of crime you’re charged with. The best criminal defense attorneys go to trial often, so ask us how many trials we’ve done. Ask if we have experience with felonies or just misdemeanors. The best criminal defense attorneys will have both.
- Tell me about your relationship with prosecutors.If you think the most important person in the courtroom is the judge, you’d be wrong. The judge is just the referee–the real power lies with the prosecutor. Decisions about charges, dismissals, and plea bargains are made by the prosecutor. The best criminal defense attorneys cultivate relationships with prosecutors to get what we want for our clients. We build these relationships by working hard (showing that we’re not afraid of a fight), saying no (showing that we stand up for our clients), and being friendly (showing that we’re professional). When a prosecutor respects us, our clients are more likely to benefit from that respect with better plea deals and more dismissals.
- Tell me about your personality.When searching for a criminal defense attorney online, you’ll likely see the word “AGGRESSIVE.” Why? Because that’s what criminal defense attorneys think everyone wants. However, there are other important personality qualities that the best criminal defense attorneys possess. We know that compassion, empathy, and kindness help our clients as much as our assertiveness.
Do you want an attorney who talks down to you? Or do you want an attorney who takes time to listen? Do you want an attorney who quickly tells you what to do to achieve their attorney goals? Or do you want an attorney who asks you intelligent questions to help you achieve your goals?
- Tell me about what I should expect.Going to court can be difficult, emotional, and embarrassing. Some attorneys will take advantage of your feelings by promising you that they can keep you out of jail. Don’t listen to this empty promise. The best criminal defense attorneys set expectations, but we don’t make promises. We will tell you the likelihood of jail, but we don’t try to scare you so that your fear makes you hire us.
Ask us about how long the legal process will take, how many court dates to expect, and the likelihood of achieving your goals.
Ultimately, the best criminal defense attorney for you is someone you trust completely. Being charged with a crime may make you feel powerless, but the best criminal defense attorney will help you feel confident about your experience in the courtroom and your future.