Ten Tips For Hiring A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer
I hope you never have to use this list. But if you ever need a criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County, this is a good guideline to follow. If you get charged with a crime, you are going to need a criminal lawyer. It’s as simple as that.
1) Where Do I Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Phone books or on-line directories may help but they take time and you don’t have a lot of time. Your best bet is a personal referral, whether it is from a friend, family member or business associate. Talk to the lawyer over the phone first. Ask about their level of experience and determine the hourly rate before you sign anything.
2) Does the Location of the Lawyer Matter?
Yes. Even though technology has changed the way many attorneys do business, nothing beats a local lawyer for a criminal defense case. If you are charged with a DUI, drug, assault and battery or weapons crime in West Palm Beach, you do not want a criminal defense attorney from Ft. Lauderdale representing you. A local defense attorney who knows the courtroom and the prosecution will do a much better job.
3) Do I Hire a Law Firm or Lawyer?
Bigger may be better for basketball players, but not for lawyers. Criminal defense attorneys are judged by their individual skills and not where they work. If you choose a smaller firm, they will usually charge less than a larger firm. Do the math -it costs a lot to operate a big law firm.
4) Experience Counts
What kind of track record does the criminal attorney have? You will have a hard time getting an honest answer. Even if the attorney told you, it could be a record of easy cases and not tough ones. Instead – ask the attorney about the cases he has handled that are specific to your charge. If the criminal lawyer doesn’t have at least ten under his belt, keep shopping.
5) How Much Do I Have to Pay?
Fees are one of the least discussed parts of any legal case yet one of the most important. Lawyers mostly bill by time or flat fee. In addition to fees, clients also have to pay for sales/services taxes and disbursements when applicable. Remember – you hire a lawyer for his legal advice, not for his photocopying. Ask the attorney for an estimate about the entire case, including all legal fees, court time – even photocopying. It may be wise to look elsewhere if he has a lot of extra charges.
6) Is the Price Negotiable?
A defendant who has been charged with a crime will rarely choose a lawyer based on price. This could cost you dearly. A lawyer’s fee may be negotiable even if he tells you otherwise. How much can you afford? A fee arrangement is something he is more willing to discuss – and you need to talk about this as soon as possible.
6) Tell the Truth
This is not the time to hold anything back, so speak openly and honestly to your attorney about everything. Give your lawyer as much information as possible. The more facts your criminal defense attorney has, the more tools he has in his arsenal.
7) Start Writing
Keep detailed notes about your case. Don’t leave anything out. Notes are not only important for you, but for your attorney as well. And make sure your attorney has provided you with copies of all documentation that is related to your case.
Keep an open communication and dialogue with your attorney. If a big law firm is representing you, don’t settle for a paralegal or legal assistant. You need to communicate with the attorney you hired and the attorney needs to communicate with you, too.
9) Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer You Get Along With
You don’t have like the attorney, but it helps to get along. You need a smart and experienced criminal lawyer who will work hard on your behalf and do the job in a prompt and efficient manner. Don’t hire a mediocre lawyer unless you want to spend time in jail.
10) Fire Your Lawyer if You Don’t Like Him
You are not getting married – you are hiring someone who is going to fight for your rights and freedom. If you are uncomfortable with the way your attorney is handling your case, find someone else. It’s a buyer’s market out there – even for Palm Beach County criminal defense attorneys. Make sure he or she has your best interests at heart. Remember – your lawyer is working for you.