Over 10 million people are arrested every year. While some of those that get picked up do so for minor offenses, others are arrested and face serious charges with prison implications.
If the charges you’re facing down stand to have a serious, long-term negative impact on your life, you’re going to want to hire a criminal defense attorney.
But how can you find the right attorney for you? Who is the person or group that’s going to get you off or steeply reduce the damage of the charges brought against you?
In this post, we break down those questions by sharing a handful of steps you can take to whittle down your defense options and happen upon the perfect legal assistance. Keep reading to learn more!
Assess If Your Qualify for a Court Appointee
As we’ll touch on later in this post, a criminal defense attorney can be expensive. Fortunately, if you’re not in a position to pay an attorney’s rate, the court will appoint a public defender to fight for your interests.
To qualify for a public defender, you generally need to prove proof of poverty. Also, most public defenders aren’t going to be as good as private, costly defenders given that public defenders are generally just starting in the field of law.
Still, if money is an issue and you need legal help, don’t shy away from claiming the free help offered by the court.
Talk to Your Network
Let’s say you don’t qualify for a public defender or are vested in getting your hands on a top-notch private defender, no matter the cost. The first means of chasing down lawyer leads that we recommend is to talk to your network.
Friends and family members you trust may have run into legal trouble in the past. That trouble could have brought them to a lawyer that they may be able to recommend to you.
Getting a lawyer through a personal recommendation could mean a discounted rate or special attention. For those reasons, we always advocate that people lean on in-network referrals if they’re available.
Head to Reviews Boards
With the internet, you don’t need to have a personal referral to get referred. Websites like Google and Yelp make attorney references available to everyone.
Head over to either site and start reading through criminal defense lawyer reviews. If you find an attorney in your area that has 10 or more reviews with a 4-star+ average, put them on your shortlist.
You should be able to find at least 3 to 4 promising lawyers via review boards in just about every city.
Don’t Be Afraid to Book Consults
Creating shortlists of lawyers is well and good. Your shortlist, however, isn’t going to defend you in court. In order to keep the ball rolling with finding an attorney, you’ll need to call up the lawyers you’ve noted and start booking consultations.
Most lawyers will meet with people facing criminal charges free of charge to go over their cases. Others may charge for consults.
We recommend getting some time on the books with any lawyer that’s willing to talk to you for free as meeting with them won’t set you back anything and could have a huge positive impact on your life.
Understand an Attorney’s Take on Your Case
Not every criminal defense attorney is going to see your case the same way. Some might look at your case and suggest you can beat your charges. Others might say that the only way they’d be open to taking on your case is if you’d be willing to strike a plea deal.
Know what your goals are in hiring an attorney and see how those goals stack up against what’s being offered to you during consults.
You don’t want to have unreasonable expectations for outcomes but you also don’t want to hire a lawyer that doesn’t seem interested in fighting for the outcome you’re hoping for.
The best attorney in the world is worthless to you if you can’t afford them. With that in mind, don’t waste time engaging with flashy lawyers that are out of your budget. All you’re doing by engaging in that behavior is wasting time and keeping yourself away from real legal help.
Know your budget before you start talking to lawyers. Ask lawyers what their fee structures look like during your consult. Don’t be afraid to cut meetings short if what’s being asked is out of your wheelhouse.
Consider Ties to the Community
The last factor we’d suggest you think about before hiring an assault lawyer or any other criminal defense expert is their ties to the community. Lawyers that know local judges, prosecutors, and so forth can often win better outcomes for their clients.
With that in mind, ask a lawyer you’re considering how often they fight cases in your community and how they feel, based on their experience, your case is likely to go over in the courts.
The more familiar a lawyer is with local law enforcement, the clearer picture they’ll be able to give you.
Don’t Wait to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Having a criminal defense attorney in your corner when you’re facing serious charges is a must. It could literally mean the difference between you enjoying freedom versus losing decades of your life in prison.
We hope the advice we’ve given you helps to refine your legal search and ultimately, get your hands on the help you need. If you’d like more general guidance on your legal questions, you’re welcome to explore additional content in our blog.