If you find yourself facing criminal charges of any nature, the consequences of choosing the wrong attorney can be far-reaching. This is a scary time for you, but you have to pull yourself together and focus on doing everything you can to prepare for your case properly. Here are just a few tips for helping you choose a criminal lawyer.
Practicing law is seen as a prestigious profession populated with lots of very intelligent people. And, this is certainly true, but there are so many aspects of law and practice areas. It is crucial you choose a lawyer who primarily—ideally exclusively—practices criminal law. And you want to take that one step further, and work with an attorney who has tried many cases similar to yours. An attorney who primarily represents people accused of violent crimes may not be the most capable when it comes to representing you in a DUI case.
When you come across attorneys who appear to have a similar amount of experience and ‘track record’ choosing between them is usually a matter of the costs of using their services. Remember a higher fee does not necessarily mean more competent service. When it comes to more serious charges, however, you don’t want to pick someone based solely on price. You want the best you can afford.
Beware of Guarantees
No matter what type of case you have, there is no way to guarantee a specific outcome. Sure, a lawyer may have a good idea of how things may play out based on similar cases in the past, and can offer his insight. But, steer clear of any criminal attorney who makes any sort of guarantee about the outcome. Any responsible attorney would not do such a thing.
Ranking High in Search Engines Means Little
Like any other professional, lawyers market their services. Websites are optimized to naturally rank high in search engines. This doesn’t mean this lawyer or form is better than one showing up on page 2 of Google results. And, as for the results in shaded colors at the top of the page, as well as the results to the right…those are paid ads. The internet can be a great place to start your search, but don’t just go with the firm ranking number one for your search term.
Read websites carefully. Is there a lot of fluff or does it contain solid information that shows the lawyer is experienced and knowledgeable about this practice area, such as a regularly updated blog discussing issues relevant to criminal law?
Considerations for Referral Services
When searching for attorneys online, many results that show up are not actual law firms but referral services. Essentially, you contact them, and for a fee, they put you in touch with a lawyer to handle your case. This can be problematic in a few ways. First, they are not doing this referral for free—they will charge you a fee, sometimes quite a high one, just to put you in touch with an attorney you could have easily contacted yourself. Secondly, the requirements for an attorney to get on this referral list can vary greatly—some services have very stringent standards regarding experience, while others will take anyone in good standing with their local bar association. It is probably best to search on your own.