No one ever wants to think they would ever have to look for an attorney—especially a criminal defense attorney. But the truth is, anyone who faces an arrest or a charge by local police should consult with one. So how does one go about finding one? And how do you decide which one to go with?
Your criminal defense lawyer is your representative: he or she represents your good character, your side of the story, your defenses to the charge against you, and your adviser on what the criminal justice system has planned for you—and how it should be navigated. But if you’re like most people, you don’t know what makes a good one and what doesn’t.
Maybe a better question is: “how do you find the best criminal defense attorney for you?” This requires a handful of questions you need to ask yourself.
First, is the criminal defense attorney experienced with your exact type of charge? Nobody goes to a heart surgeon to take care of a broken foot. With criminal defense, the most common aspect you will find is that there are many categories of lawyers who seem to focus on some charges more than others. Some find themselves focused entirely on life exposure cases like homicides. Others handle only DUI’s and other driving related offenses. Therefore, it’s important to ask what their primary focus is so that you know whether they will be a good fit.
Second, is the lawyer familiar with the courthouse your case is in? All California criminal defense lawyers who are licensed can practice in every courthouse that is within the state. But courthouses (and even courtrooms for that matter) have very different ways of doing things. Sometimes, the same hearings go by different names depending on what county you are in. These small differences could possibly affect your chances of being taken seriously by the court your case sits in. If your lawyer does not know the nuances of the courtroom, it may pose a challenge to navigate it in the best way possible.
Finally, is the criminal defense attorney you are considering to hire have some kind of a strategy or plan in mind for you? It’s one thing to suggest how your kind of charge is generally handled. It’s an entirely different thing to go deep into your facts and circumstances and suggest a game plan that satisfies your ultimate goal. Some strategies of criminal defense lawyers include finding a negotiated settlement without jail consequences as quickly as possible. But this plan may not meet the needs of a client who wants to fight the charges to the end. A no-jail deal with the District Attorney (DA) on the case does nothing for a client who cannot suffer a conviction on their record. Therefore, you will have to make sure to also communicate your goals to the attorney so that they can help you make the right decision in getting there.
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