If you are facing a criminal charge, you need to take it seriously. Not only should you hire an attorney, but you should hire the right attorney for you and for your case. There’s more to hiring the right attorney than simply googling criminal defense lawyers. In fact, that’s why we offer free consultations – we want to make sure we are the right fit for you. When you meet with a criminal defense attorney, at a minimum, make sure you ask these 4 questions.
1. Have you handled cases similar to mine? Criminal charges can vary significantly – from misdemeanors to felonies, to sex crimes to federal charges. Each type of charge is handled very differently. You want an attorney who has experience handling similar charges to the one you are facing. If the attorney is experienced in handling murder charges, but rarely handled DUI cases, you probably should look elsewhere for a DUI attorney and vice versa.
2. Have you practiced in this court before? While the criminal charge is the same throughout the state (or country, if it’s a federal charge), each court system handles things a little bit differently. The procedure may be different because each court may have local rules that are specific just to that court. If your attorney is unfamiliar with local procedure, it’s possible that deadlines could be missed or documents could be incorrectly filed that could seriously hurt your case.
3. How often and how will we communicate? You know yourself best. If you need an attorney who will communicate with you weekly – find that. On the other hand, you may be content going through some quiet times and not need as frequent communication. Similarly, if you process things better through writing, you’ll want an attorney who communicates through written forms of communication more frequently than phone calls. Same idea if you need to speak in person to fully understand what is going on. Whatever your communication style is, find an attorney who mirrors that. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a long road of miscommunication and anxiety.
4. How often do your cases go to trial? Many criminal cases don’t make it all the way to trial and instead result in a plea bargain. A good attorney evaluates each case individually and guides their client towards the best result. That being said, if you feel strongly about going to trial or taking a plea bargain, you’ll want to be sure that your mindset does not clash with the experience and philosophy of your attorney. There is no one right answer to this question but it will help you better understand how this attorney handles cases and whether he/she is the right fit for you.
There may be other questions you want to ask an attorney at your initial consultation but these 4 will help you get an idea of whether you want to hire that attorney. While hiring an attorney quickly is important, it may be more important to hire the right attorney. If you are facing criminal charges in Washington State, give us a call for your free consultation – we will be ready with answers to these questions and any others that you may have.