Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges and in need of a lawyer?
If so, you aren’t alone. According to the FBI, in 2015 there were 3,363 arrests per 100,000 inhabitants in the United States. But being arrested is often just the first part of what can be a long process.
Strong legal representation is a crucial part of navigating the criminal justice system. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will ensure your Constitutional rights are upheld. This way, you receive a fair result based on the facts and evidence of your case.
How can you find the right attorney to represent you on your criminal charges?
Read on to learn how to select the best criminal defense lawyer.
Competent Legal Representation
It’s important that the attorney you hire has the ability to competently represent you in all aspects of your criminal law case.
The Florida Bar, for example, defines competent legal representation as “the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”
An experienced criminal law attorney will be familiar with local court rules. They will also be well versed in criminal procedure. This means they will know how to handle a case in that jurisdiction and the in’s and out’s of criminal justice.
But having experience in criminal law is not absolutely necessary.
An experienced attorney can become competent in an area of the law through proper study. This means they learn criminal procedure and local court rules before representing you.
If you are new to the criminal justice system, you may be more confident with an attorney who has experience. This way you can have peace of mind that you are hiring a lawyer who has been through this process many times.
Explains the Criminal Justice Process
Your criminal defense attorney should be able to explain how the criminal justice process works. This includes answering your questions about criminal procedure. It also means being able to explain the punishment you face if you are found guilty of the charge(s).
Many cases begin with an arrest and a booking in jail. After an arrest, a prosecutor will decide if there is evidence to file formal charges against you.
From there, a case can go many different directions.
You may be eligible to receive bond and release from jail pending resolution of your case. Other charges may not allow for any bond and you will remain in custody.
It’s important to have an attorney that understands the system and your options. This way they are able to ensure your rights are not violated during this process.
A defense attorney should be ready to provide zealous representation on your behalf. In part, this means researching all issues and developing facts in discovery. They should also file any and all motions that the facts of your case warrant. This way, a prosecutor is only able to use lawfully obtained evidence against you.
It’s also important your attorney explains the maximum penalty you face for the charge(s). It is also unethical for an attorney to promise you a certain outcome in a criminal matter.
Strong Reputation in the Jurisdiction
The best criminal defense lawyer should have a strong reputation in the jurisdiction where your case is being handled.
Part of having a strong reputation means that the attorney is respected in the area for being an ethical advocate for their clients. If you are new to the criminal justice system, you may be unfamiliar with who is a reputable attorney in your area.
If that’s the case, you should ask a trusted friend or family member if they have a recommendation. If you know someone who has been through this process, they may be able to recommend an attorney who has represented them well in the past.
Remember that you should not discuss the facts of your case with these people. This is because what you say may be able to be used against you later in court.
Communicates Effectively With Clients
The criminal defense attorney you hire should also communicate effectively with clients. Strong communication between your lawyer and you are a crucial part of a good attorney-client relationship.
But what is effective communication?
An attorney should be respectful to you from your very first meeting with him or her. They should be patient as you explain your case to them. Any and all questions you have should be answered in a way that is easy to understand. Your attorney should also be willing to take the time you need so that you feel comfortable.
Effective communication matters throughout your case up to its resolution.
Speak to your lawyer about how often you should expect to hear from him or her about your case. Legal counsel should ensure they are keeping you up to date with important events or changes in your case.
They should also communicate with you in the way that is best for you. These mediums may include written letters, phone calls, emails or a combination of them all.
Wrapping Up: Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer
Finding the best criminal defense lawyer in your area can be a time-consuming process. It takes being patient and willing to ask questions so that you find the best attorney for your case.
Criminal charges have the potential to impact your life in a way that a traffic ticket does not. That’s because you may face a jail or prison sentence if you are found guilty of your charges.
Competent legal counsel helps you ensure you get the fair shake you deserve. An attorney does this by advocating for your position and ensuring your Constitutional rights are protected.
Are you looking for an attorney in your area? Check out our classifieds ad search to find legal services in your area today.
*This article has been written for general guidance on how to find the best criminal defense lawyer and is not an offer of legal advice. You should seek the guidance of a competent attorney to receive advice on your particular matter.