3 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

No two attorneys are alike, so you need to take the initiative to ask questions to ensure that the person you will be trusting to represent you is really the right fit for you.  Three questions are essential to discover if this attorney will be the best for you and your case:

  • Do you have the time and experience for this type of case?
  • Time:  Even the best attorney cannot perform well if they don’t have the time resources to dedicate to you.  Make sure that your attorney is comfortable with the time that your case will take and court where your appearances will be made.
  • Experience: If you are facing a criminal charge, you want to confirm that the attorney you are considering has extensive experience in criminal defense.
    • References:  Ask your attorney for references, and follow through to contact the references given.  Find out what advice others have for you about working with this attorney.
  • What strategy do you envision for this case? 
  • Motions, Trial, or Settlement strategy:  Some cases are a good fit for a Motion to Suppress, which basically alleges that the evidence against you should be thrown out because that evidence was obtained by violating your Constitutional rights.  Other cases may be a better fit for trial because the evidence is not sufficient or potential may exist for testimony from witnesses that could help your case.  Other cases might be a good fit for a settlement strategy and sometimes even a cooperation with the prosecution.  There are many good ways to approach a criminal case, so you should find out what this attorney feels is the best approach to decide if that matches up with the approach you had in mind.
  • How will I be billed and what cost should I anticipate?
  • Billing:  Attorneys typical bill with an hourly structure or flat fee.  You will want to find out how you will be billed.  Some attorneys will not give an estimate on the cost of the case, but the more information you can get about the billing, the better you’ll be able to plan.
  • Retainer Agreement:  Many attorneys utilize a retainer agreement, which is just a document that typically outlines what you will pay and what those payments covered.  If you are using a flat fee legal service, you will want to pay particular attention to whether you are billed extra for emails, phone calls, meetings, rescheduled hearings, etc. Under any billing system, you need to look for additional charges for items such as copies, so that you can be prepared for the bills.

Knowledge is power, so take the time to ask these important questions.  Evaluate the answers carefully and do not be afraid to follow up with addition inquiries.  You are the client, which means you are the employer of the attorney for this case, so take the lead in finding out if this person is the right lawyer for you.