Having the knowledge and experience to effectively defend your interests is paramount when facing criminal charges. Whether you’ve been arrested, are under investigation. Or simply want to understand your legal rights, finding a criminal defense attorney who can help is essential.
To begin your search for an attorney with whom you feel comfortable working, we’ve compiled this helpful list of tips. These pointers will assist you in finding a trustworthy criminal defense attorney who not only has your best interests at heart.
Ask Friends and Family
When in doubt, ask those you trust. Your personal network is likely to include individuals who have been in your situation in the past. Maybe they have some experiences before or know someone who has. We all know someone who has been in trouble with the law, so ask around.
Your social network may be able to point you in the right direction, like hiring a New Jersey criminal defense attorney or anywhere in your area. When asking friends and family for referrals, keep in mind that people are often nervous about offering advice. If you ask around and no one seems to know of a good lawyer, don’t be shy about asking for more information.
Use Professional Referral Services
While it may seem obvious, another way to find a criminal defense attorney is to use a professional referral service. These services are for pair you with a lawyer who meets your needs and is qualified to represent you.
Because these sites are usually focused on providing quality results. They are a great way to narrow down your search for an attorney. These professional referral services will let you search for and choose from a variety of available attorneys.
Some also offer an attorney consultation option, which allows you to contact and ask questions of specific attorneys before deciding whether to hire them or not. You’ll likely be required to pay a small fee for this service. But the investment could be well worth it when it comes to the outcome of your case.
Check Out Previous Defending Records
If you’ve narrowed down your search for a criminal defense attorney, it’s time to look into their previous defending records. You should be able to find this information on their law firm’s website or through a professional referral service. Most law firms will proudly display their previous defending records. So that you can see how many cases they’ve won and how many they’ve lost.
However, be wary of law firms that don’t display this information; this could be a red flag. The defending records of your attorney will show you how often they’ve been in your situation in the past. This information will let you see how they’ve handled similar cases in the past, which can be incredibly helpful in deciding who to hire.
Be Wary of Marketing Hype
Not all law firms are created equally, and some firms are notorious for over-hyping their abilities and success rates. While you’re searching for a criminal defense attorney, be wary of law firms that appear to be marketing themselves as the “best in town.” Keep in mind that there are no awards given out for the “best” law firm in any given city.
Marketing hype is not regulated by any governing body, so it can be difficult to determine what is true and what is simply false advertising. If you feel like you’re being sold a false bill of goods, don’t be afraid to walk away. There are plenty of law firms out there, so you can always keep searching until you find the right one.
Check out the Law Firm’s Track Record
One way to check out a law firm’s track record is by conducting an online review of the firm. You can find reviews of a law firm’s customer service, cost, and effectiveness on sites like Yelp, Google, and Avvo. You can also see what ratings the firm has received from the American Bar Association.
The ABA maintains an online database where current and past clients can leave reviews of their experience with specific law firms. While these reviews are not regulated in any way, they can be helpful in determining whether or not a law firm is worth hiring.
Check the Attorney’s Track Record With the Bar Association
Another way to check the attorney’s track record with the Bar Association is to look at their disciplinary records. These records will show if the attorney has ever been in trouble before.
Although disciplinary records are not always visible to the public, you should be able to find them online through the Bar Association website. If the attorney’s disciplinary records show that they have been sanctioned or disbarred in the past, this could be a sign that you should consider hiring another attorney.
Don’t Forget to Ask About Retainer Fees and Advance Payment Requirements
Before making a decision on which lawyer to hire, you should also make sure to ask about retainer fees and advance payment requirements. Retainer fees are one-time, upfront payments that you make to the law firm in exchange for their services when you can’t afford to pay the full fee at once.
These fees are often non-refundable, even if you decide to fire the law firm or if they don’t end up taking your case. Retainer fees are common in criminal cases because you typically don’t know anything about your charges.
If you’re in trouble, you may not know what your next steps should be, so having a law firm ready and waiting to help can benefit your case. Advance payment requirements are different than retainer fees in that they are simply payment arrangements. Some law firms may ask you to pay a portion of your fee upfront and the rest upon completion of the case.
While this may seem like a red flag, it’s actually quite common in law firms. If you’re dealing with a criminal charge, you want to be sure you find a good attorney. This will be your go-to person for advice and guidance as you navigate the legal system, so it’s important to choose wisely. The tips listed above will help you narrow down your search and find a trustworthy, effective attorney.
When you’re facing criminal charges, the last thing you want to do is find yourself in an even worse position because you hired the wrong lawyer. We hope this article has helped you understand how to find a criminal defense attorney. If you follow these tips, you should be able to find a good lawyer who will fight for you and your interests during this stressful, uncertain time.