8 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime, one of the most important things you can do is hire a qualified Los Angeles defense attorney. However, not all criminal defense lawyers are going to be of the same quality. In fact, there are many criminal defense attorneys who will gladly take your money, represent you in court, but know very little about your case and contact you infrequently.
That is not what you are looking for in a criminal defense lawyer. Instead of hanging your hopes on a lawyer that might not be able to get the job done, here are eight questions you can ask when hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
1) How Long Have You Practiced Law?
Experience matters, especially when it comes to criminal defense. The lawyer you hire should be a seasoned veteran with years of experience both in and out of the courtroom. While every lawyer has to start somewhere, it is best not to trust the complexities of your case to an attorney that is new to criminal defense.
2) What is Your Area of Speciality?
It is very common for lawyers to build a practice for themselves where they specialize in one particular area of the law. For instance, some attorneys focus almost exclusively on federal defense matters, while others prefer to represent clients who have been accused of a drug crime.
There is a good chance that there is a lawyer in your area who specializes in the exact type of law related to your case. You can ask lawyers you are considering hiring what their area of specialty is. If it is not related to your case you should probably continue your search. In some cases, a lawyer you are interviewing might even be able to refer you to a lawyer that does specialize in the type of case you are dealing with.
3) How Much Do You Charge?
Before you hire a lawyer, you need to get an idea of how much they are going to charge for their services. The cost of a strong defense can vary widely depending on the case and the lawyer. In order to avoid being surprised by a higher than expected bill later on, talk with your lawyer right away about attorney’s fees.
4) How Many Times Have You Handled a Case Like Mine?
This question is related to experience and area of specialty and is another good way to gauge if a lawyer is going to be right for you. While every case can be different, there are often issues that pop up over and over again. After the lawyer has the details of your case, ask them how many times they have handled a case that is just like yours.
For instance, if you’re facing charges for a sex crime, you’ll want to help of an attorney who has experience defending clients against charges like yours. Knowing what they have seen before can give you an idea of what to expect.
5) Based on My Charges, What Are the Possible Outcomes of My Case?
With any criminal defense case, there are a number of possible outcomes. In some cases and for a variety of reasons, the prosecution might choose to drop all charges. In other cases, a defense attorney can work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor. Finally, if the case does go to trial there is the possibility of a not guilty or guilty verdict. When hiring a lawyer, ask them what the possible outcomes are for your case and how likely each is to occur.
6) How Long Will My Case Take?
While you have a right to a speedy trial, the exact length your case will take to resolve itself depends on a number of factors. In some situations, plea offers or agreements are common and might only take a month or two to be finalized. On the other hand, felony cases that go to trial can take over a year to run their course and appeals could take even longer.
7) How Often Will We Communicate?
Communication between a lawyer and their client is the key to any strong defense. Tell any lawyer you are considering hiring that you expect regular communication and that you want to be informed of any updates in your case.
8) Who Else Will Be Working on My Case?
Any good defense lawyer has a strong team that works with them. Assistants, clerks, paralegals, other lawyers, and secretaries are all key components of a thriving legal infrastructure. Ask your lawyer if you can meet the other members of their team.
In some cases, they will be the people you communicate with as your case proceeds. However, your lawyer should never pass you along to others in their office and forget about your case. Make sure that even though they have a team they are still committed to you and your case.