Being accused of a criminal offense results in severe emotional, financial and mental stress. The accusation alone is capable of destroying lives. While our society is supposed to withhold judgment until a case is adjudicated, a person accused of a crime is usually assumed to be guilty. In fact, even when people are found not guilty, the criminal accusation often follows them and continues to create hardship in obtaining employment and prejudice in society. The first and most important action a person accused of a crime can take is in retaining a criminal defense lawyer to defend against the accusation. But the process of selecting a criminal defense lawyer is fraught with challenges. There are many lawyers with attractive websites and many more lawyers who advertise on various media outlets. So how does a person chose the best criminal defense lawyer for the job? Here are three key factors to look for in choosing the right criminal defense lawyer:
Trial Experience is a very important factor in selecting the right criminal defense lawyer. There are numerous lawyers with experience in walking into courtrooms and negotiating plea agreements. In fact there are many lawyers who have so much experience in particular courtrooms that they have become friends with the prosecutor. A lawyer who is friends with the prosecutor will fear upsetting the relationship with the prosecutor and will be unlikely to aggressively fight. Fighting aggressively means he might damage the relationship with the prosecutor which means he won't be able to get as good deals in the future for other clients. That means that this case must be forfeited to ensure a deal can be had in the next case. A criminal defense lawyer with trial experience will not be afraid to go toe-to-toe with the prosecutor. More importantly, the prosecutor will know that the lawyer is an aggressive fighter. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer with trial experience does not mean that the case must go t trial. But it does mean that the lawyer will not be afraid to go to trial and win, when necessary.
A criminal defense lawyer must be legally skilled in the most up-to-date legal developments, techniques and science in the law of criminal defense to properly represent a client. Just because a lawyer is licensed does not mean that the lawyer has remained abreast of the latest legal developments in the criminal defense field. While many states require lawyers to get some annual professional education, the annual education requirement is not linked to a specific area of practice. Legal competence in criminal defense means that there is a connection between the education and the representation. In our firm for example, no less than 4 weeks out of each year are set aside for training to develop and teach trial skills; scientific skills such as psychological influences on criminal behavior, forensics and investigative techniques; and the newest developments in the criminal law. By investing such a large period time in remaining up to date on developments in the field of criminal defense and in enhancing trial skills, we achieve a level of competence rarely matched by other law firms. That works allows us to provide exceptional criminal defense representation.
Accessibility means the client's ability to access the criminal defense lawyer or the legal staff. Often people who have hired criminal defense lawyers complain that the only time the lawyer is accessible is when he is being paid. That's unfortunate. representing someone in a criminal matter is one of the most personal undertakings a lawyer can experience. proper representation means learning the facts from the client and understanding not just the how but the why behind the accusation. Sometimes more is learned from visiting with the client at home rather than in the office. The office has barriers to personal human communication. If a client is not detained, a visit at the client's home sometimes reveals more information about the case than all the conversations that can be had in an office setting. At our firm, we make a point of trying to visit with our clients outside of the office on a more personal level. By being accessible not just physically but also as human beings we develop a bond with the client and an understand of the case that allows us to achieve extraordinary results.
While price is often the first question asked, it is not and should not be the most important factor. Price is of course always a factor because if someone does not have the money then a criminal defense lawyer cannot be retained. The question that ought to be asked is how valuable is your liberty and freedom. Imagine what a day in jail would be like. How about 10 days? How about a year or five years? Choosing a criminal defense lawyer based only on price ignores the value of experience, legal competence and accessibility. A criminal defense lawyer with a hundred or even fifty clients can charge less because he has many clients but such a lawyer will not have time to prepare a proper defense, will lack competence and will not be accessible. The personal nature of proper criminal defense representation means that a criminal defense lawyer must have time for the client which necessarily eliminates price as a factor.HF