Critical Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Criminal Law Attorney

By | September 16, 2013

When you are facing criminal charges, you need to find the best criminal law attorney that will effectively represent your case. Since not all criminal defense attorneys that claim to practice criminal law are qualified and experienced enough to handle your case, it is important to take the time to meet with a few potential lawyers before deciding. Incorporate some of the following questions into the attorney interview process to find a good legal match and top-notch attorney to win your case.

1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Criminal Law?

This is one of the most important questions to ask an attorney because their answer can be very revealing about how they will handle your case. Since it takes a number of years experience to become proficient in the legal field, it is generally recommended that the attorney has at least ten to fifteen years of substantial experience in criminal law. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, as some attorneys with much less experience compensate with intelligence or passion. However, these exceptions are rare to find and it is always best to have an experienced counsel on your side if your case goes to trial.

Furthermore, gather more important information about whether he or she has an extensive experience in working with similar cases. Ask inquiries about what law school they graduated from, if they belong to any professional organizations or bar associations, how knowledgeable they are with your charges, how often they represent someone with your charges. All of these simple questions will reveal a wealth of information about whether this lawyer has the background, knowledge, and skills to handle your case.

2. How Often Do You Take Your Cases to Trial?

Contrary to popular belief and portrayal by the media, the majority of lawyers do not deal with many trials because most cases do not make it that far. Some attorneys have only gone to trial a few times, even if they have worked a long career in the legal field. Handling a criminal law trial demands a high level of expertise and a great deal more work that other cases. It is vital to figure out how many criminal law cases the potential attorney has taken to trial, and ensure that you are receiving an accurate answer by following up with a little research. Also, ask about what the results or verdicts were from these trials. Attorneys may have loads of experience taking cases to trial, but they may have a very low success rate.

3. Do You Have Time to Represent Me?

Before selecting an attorney or law firm, you need to gain a clear understanding of how your case will be handled behind the scenes. Unfortunately, many law firms have secretaries and paralegals do all of the hard work on your file, while an inexperienced associate lawyer works on your case and appears in court on your behalf. If your initial consultation and interview is scheduled with a paralegal or associate lawyer, there is a high chance that the attorney does not have the necessary time to meet with you. In these instances, it is recommended that you walk away immediately. The last thing you need when facing criminal charges is to fall into incapable hands, or fall through the cracks altogether.

In order to be certain that you will be receiving the attention you deserve, ask if the attorney will have time to represent your case and meet with you directly. Ask him or her whether there will be other criminal defense lawyers working on your case to judge the logistics of the law firm. Make sure that the attorney will be the one to appear in hearings, court, and even trial on your behalf. Inquire about how you can contact them and how quick they will reply when you have specific questions on your case. All of these questions will help ensure that you will be able to build a strong one-on-one relationship with an attorney you can depend on.

4. What Legal Expenses Will I Have to Pay?

Legal expenses can be very competitive among criminal law attorneys, so it is usually beneficial to shop around to compare rates and fees for the best deal. Most attorneys either charge an hourly rate or a flat fee. Make inquiries about which method of payment the lawyer utilizes, as well as how much it is. Ensure that you fully understand what is included in the expenses, what is not included, and if there are hidden additional fees to avoid costly surprises later on. Ask when the payment will be due, such as if it needs to be paid in full upfront or after the case is resolved. Besides paying for the attorney’s time, ask what other associated legal expenses will be charged and how steep they may be. Gather as much financial information as possible beforehand, so that you know what to expect and are sure you can afford the costs.

5. Do You Have Testimonials From Past Clients?

In most cases, client testimonials are much more significant than trial results, experience, and awards. Testimonials are the perfect way to see what other clients have to say about the lawyer and whether they were satisfied with the results. All good criminal defense attorneys will have plenty of testimonials for you to peruse through on your own time. If an attorney cannot provide you with some testimonials, this is a major red flag that may indicate a slew of unsatisfied clients. Ensure that you gain third party verification that this attorney has the abilities and skills to handle your case by reading carefully through these testimonials.

When you have finished interviewing potential criminal law attorneys, it may be a quick and easy decision if one stood out among the rest. If more than one has met your required criteria, take the time to ask yourself which attorney has the most experience, whose strategies appealed to you the most, and which attorney seemed the most confident in his or her abilities. When you combine the answers to all of these questions, you will be pointed in the right direction to the best criminal defense lawyer to suit your case’s needs.

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