Few things are more harrowing than being charged with a serious crime. Whether you’re really innocent or guilty, a criminal conviction will change your life forever— but you have a right to defend yourself in a fair trial. To that end, it’s imperative to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer—someone who has the legal knowledge to mount the most vigorous and effective defense possible.
Not all criminal defense lawyers are created equal, however, and it’s important to find the attorney whose track record makes them a good match for your case. Here are some of the things you should look for when choosing your representation.
The first thing to be sure of is that you’re actually hiring a lawyer who specializes in criminal cases—not just a civil attorney.
Criminal defense lawyers tend to work primarily with individuals who have been accused of crimes, and have the legal skills necessary to provide a robust representation.
Civil attorneys, meanwhile, more often advise on matters involving business, finance, family law, and the like. They, typically work on a retainer basis; their skills simply aren’t what you need in a criminal case.
You will usually find criminal defense lawyers in smaller practices, while civil lawyers flock toward large group firms.
It goes without saying that you need an attorney who is licensed to practice in your state. We’d go a step further and add that you should seek an attorney who regularly represents cases in your local area, and who knows the courthouse and judges who will be dealing with your case. This knowledge of how things are done at a local level, preferences of local prosecutors and judges, etc. can all be invaluable.
Many criminal defense attorneys will specialize in certain kinds of charges—for instance, some might focus on violent crimes, others on sexual assault, etc. It’s always in your best interests to ask your attorney what experience he or she has working with the kind of charges you’re facing.
In addition to the above points, here are some additional questions you can ask to vet your attorney and to set the proper expectations.
How long have you been practicing law?
How many cases of this kind do you take on each year?
What is your overall assessment/expectation for my case?
How often will we communicate? How can I reach you when I have a question?
How and when will you get paid?
One more thing: Don’t overlook the personality factor. At the end of the day, you want your criminal defense attorney to be someone you feel comfortable working with, and someone to whom you can readily take any questions or concerns. If your gut tells you to keep looking for a different lawyer, that’s something you should probably heed.
Being charged with any kind of a crime can be scary, and you’ll want to make sure you have the right person to champion your cause and fight for your innocence. Use these tips and guidelines to make sure you pick just the right legal defender.
If you are seeking criminal defense representation in Austin, Texas, be sure to call us at Davis-Jones Law. We have ample experience representing clients charged with a range of criminal offenses, including sexual assault. Learn more about us by contacting our firm today.