Questions to Ask your Criminal Defense Attorney

In 2011 alone, law enforcement made 12,408,899 arrests. Some of these were for drug abuse violations, some were for theft, some were for driving under the influence and others for violent crimes. Still, most arrests had one thing in common: they eventually required the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer.   Criminal Defense Lawyers: What They Do A criminal defense lawyer is an attorney who specializes in defending individuals or companies charged with conduct legally considered criminal. Criminal defense lawyers may be retained privately or hired by the court system to represent those who cannot afford a private attorney. Those who work for the court system are usually referred to as public defenders.   Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer Whenever a person is arrested, they may fear a combination of fear, anger, and anxiety. While this is natural, a criminal defense lawyer can help with this surge of emotions. In order to get the most out of a criminal defense lawyer, however, the arrested party must ask the correct questions. These questions can be broken down by experience, fees, and management of the relationship.   Experience: Some of the questions regarding experience that should be asked include: Have you handled any similar cases in the past? Do you have any special credentials? Are you certified in this area of law? How long have you been practicing law? What is your success rate? Do you have malpractice insurance? Have you gotten clients out on bail for this type of crime?   It is also smart to ask the lawyer for references that attest to their experience. Keep in mind that a lawyer may not be able to give the names of any clients, as doing so without their consent would breach lawyer/client confidentiality.   Fees: Some of the questions regarding fees that should be asked include: How much do you charge for your services? Do you charge by the hour or offer a flat fee? If it is by the hour, how will you bill me for a portion of an hour? Do you have a written fee agreement? How often will you bill me? Will I be billed for calls or emails to your staff or firm? Is advanced payment required? If I terminate your representation, what will happen to the money I have paid in advance? Will I be charged for overhead or expenses such as gas?   According to the State Bar of California, any person who finds themselves in a fee dispute with their attorney can seek out fee arbitration programs. These are conducted through local bar associations and aim to help attorneys and clients resolve disputes without having to go to court.   Management of the Relationship: Some of the questions regarding management of the relationship that should be asked include: What are your goals in regards to this case? What is your working style? How often can I expect you to be in touch with me? Will you do the work on this case or will a paralegal or co-counsel? Who will be my primary point of contact? How should I contact you, phone or email? Will I receive copies of all documentation, including correspondence and anything that is filed with the court? If I have a problem, how quickly will you return my call?   Though a lawyer is not legally obligated to answer all the above questions, asking them can help people get a feel for the integrity, effectiveness, and character of their potential counsel.   This article written by Dee Bronwinn, legal blogger. If you have been charged with a crime, Dee recommends contacting Petersen Criminal Defense NE.