If you face a criminal charge, you should act with a sense of urgency by reaching out to a California-licensed criminal defense attorney. Although your first court date might be weeks, if not months away, your lawyer can work on building a defense that helps you stay out of prison.
The question is not whether you should hire a criminal defense attorney. Instead, the question should be how do you choose the right criminal defense lawyer.
Free Case Evaluation
A majority of criminal defense attorneys offer potential clients a free case evaluation. The free initial consultation allows a criminal defense lawyer to determine how to proceed with a case. You do not have to hire a lawyer that provides a free case evaluation, but the first meeting can set the table for a beneficial professional relationship.
Areas of Expertise
Because criminal law is a huge legal category, it is essential that you work with an attorney who specializes in defending the types of criminal charges that you face. For example, many of the possible defenses for a rape charge differ from many of the possible defenses used for a murder case. You also want to ensure your lawyer has handled criminal cases at the level at which you have been charged. State and federal courts follow different procedures for handling criminal cases.
Although the number of years a lawyer has practiced criminal law is important, the more important number is the percentage of cases an attorney has won. Experience does not always translate into quality legal representation. You should ask any lawyer on your short list about how many cases the attorney has won as opposed to how many cases the lawyer has lost. You should also ask about the number of plea bargains an attorney has agreed to sign off on.
Knowledge of Local Court System
Make sure the attorney you decide to hire for your criminal case is familiar with the court where your case goes to trial. A criminal defense lawyer who consistently practices in the same courts can develop solid professional relationships with certain judges and prosecutors. You do not want to work with a California criminal defense attorney who has alienated the judge and/or the prosecutor working your case. Another reason to hire a criminal defense lawyer with local court system knowledge is to avoid having your case heard by a judge who is especially harsh on defendants that are charged with a similar crime.
After the free case valuation, the attorney that you hire starts charging legal fees. Lawyers either charge a flat fee or a fee by the hour. An attorney who works on an hourly basis bills a client for time spent working on the case, while a flat-fee arrangement means you pay a fixed rate for a lawyer to handle every phase of your case. Hourly rate arrangements can run up the legal tab quickly, while a flat fee arrangement allows you to budget appropriately for your case. You also might be able to pay your legal fees in increments.
Who is the Lawyer Handling Your Case
When you hire an attorney who runs a solo practice, you know who you will be working with throughout a criminal case. The same cannot be said for criminal defense lawyers that work for big law firms. You might go through a free case evaluation with one criminal defense lawyer, only to have a different criminal defense attorney take over your case.
Make sure you know the attorney who will work on your case.
If you face one or more criminal charges, you want to work with a criminal defense attorney that covers every criterion we have just listed. Criminal defense lawyers Scott Simmons and Dan Wagner have compiled a record of successfully defending clients against criminal charges.
Contact us today at (949) 439-5857 to schedule a free case evaluation.