If you find yourself in a situation where you need to hire a criminal defense attorney, you can’t afford to hire anyone but the best. The question is, how do you determine something as subjective as the best?
5 Things to Look for in a Defense Attorney
Hiring a defense attorney is not like hiring a plumber to come unclog a toilet in your house. You don’t run a quick Google search and call up lawyers until you can find the cheapest or fastest option. This isn’t a choice that you take lightly or make quickly. It’s a decision that you need to research very carefully.
As you consider criminal defense attorneys, here are a few things we recommend looking for:
Every lawyer has to start somewhere. And while age is not a determining factor in intellect, experience certainly is. Never hire a criminal defense attorney who is fresh out of school or just recently transitioned into criminal law.
Let them cut their teeth on someone else’s watch! Instead, hire someone who has years of experience trying cases similar to yours – and an impressive track record to boot.
- Michael Price II is a great example. He’s one of only five lawyers in Dallas to be Board Certified In Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and Board Certified in Criminal Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. Not only that, but he’s had 400 successful court cases across North Texas and nationwide. That’s the kind of experience we’re talking about!
- Tenacity and Poise
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re in litigation, not just any old run-of-the-mill lawyer will do. You need a bulldog in your court – a trial lawyer who isn’t afraid to be tenacious. In fact, they should be comfortable getting downright mean when it comes to defending your honor.
That being said, you also need someone with common sense and intellect. You need an attorney who knows how to connect with the jury and judge. They should be tenacious, yet poised. If you can find that combination, you’ve done well.
- Clear Fee Structure
This is not the time to get stingy and start shopping like a bargain hunter. Good attorneys are not cheap – but neither is getting convicted of a criminal charge. Having said that, you should inquire about an attorney’s fee structure and rates. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
“In addition, you should ask your attorney if they bill by the hour or if a flat fee arrangement is an option,” FindLaw suggests. “While some attorneys might advertise a very low flat fee, you’ll also want to inquire as to any additional fees. The advertised price might not include court filing fees, or even the cost of printing documents for your case.”
You’ll find that most criminal defense attorneys are going to have a pretty similar fee structure (at least in terms of how they get paid out), but it’s always a smart idea to ask.
- Good Communication
This is going to be a very stressful process for you. You’re going to face lots of emotions and have plenty of questions. It’s imperative that your attorney is available and open to meeting with you. Good communication skills are a must. Pay attention to how they treat you during the initial onboarding process. Are they quick to answer the phone? Do they respond to emails right away? These are details that matter in a situation of this magnitude.
- Strong Reputation
Your gut will tell you right away whether or not an attorney is worth working with or not. However, it always helps to get a little reinforcement. Do some online research and ask around to see what sort of reputation they have in the industry. Bottom line: You want someone who wins cases.
Putting it All Together
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into selecting a defense attorney. It’s more than just convenience, cost, or the person with the largest marketing budget. You need someone who is skilled and trustworthy – someone you can bet your freedom on.
Hopefully, this article has given you some helpful metrics by which you can analyze different options.