Finding yourself in a position where you are facing a criminal charge is not a great place to be but it is a time where you need to think straight and work out the best way to protect yourself and your family.
Finding the right criminal defense lawyer can often be the key to getting the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Here is a look at how to pick the one that fits the bill and what sort of things you need to consider when you are searching out a legal partner who will do their best to get you the right outcome.
Top of the page
One of the first things to say is that if you are facing something serious such as Assault & Battery (and Aggravated Assault) Charges in Florida, for example, it would not be a great strategy to pick the first name that comes out on top of your search engine result.
It should be remembered that the lawyer at the top of the pile would have paid money to grab that prominent position and although they could turn out to be a good choice at the end of the day, it often pays that the rankings are not based on ability or reputation.
Their advertising messages will also reflect what you want to hear such as saying that they will fight your corner and other such convincing messages, but again you really want a bit more hard evidence of that before appointing your chosen criminal defense lawyer.
Cut out the middle man
Another thing to look out for is whether the company that you are looking at in the search results is actually a lawyer, or an attorney referral service.
An attorney referral service will pay to take a prominent position in the search engine rankings because they will be able to charge an introduction fee for putting you in touch with a local lawyer in your area.
If you see a website that does not provide a local address and contact number there is a good chance that they might not be a local law firm, so check the details before making any contact.
Word of mouth
If you know a friend or family member who had to use a criminal defense lawyer at some point it would be a good way of taking a shortcut to appointing a lawyer who could a similar job for you.
If they rated the service they got from their lawyer and would recommend them to someone else, that can be a big help as you at least know that they are likely to deliver on their promises if they are consistent with their service.
Referrals from friends and family are always worth considering so ask around if you know someone who has had cause to use a criminal defense lawyer previously.
Use your own eyes and ears
If you have enough time it could be worth sitting in on some public sessions of court to watch a criminal case being tried.
It will help give you a feel of what you might have to face at some point but it could also prove beneficial to watch a defense lawyer in action to see if you like what you see and hear. If you do, you could approach them directly at the end of the session to see if they could represent you.
Courtroom observation does have its merits as long as you have enough opportunity to take that route before needing representation.
Understanding what a court-appointed defense attorney means
If you are struggling to find a lawyer or want some more guidance you might consider the idea of using a court-appointed defense attorney.
There are a couple of major points that you need to be aware of before you decide to take that particular route.
Firstly, you don’t get a choice as the court simply appoints the next available lawyer on their list, which could be a big hindrance to your case if you end with someone who maybe isn’t the best pick from the talent pool.
Secondly, you will discover that many court-appointed attorneys do not specialize in criminal defense, which is again the sort of handicap you don’t want to contend with when your potential liberty might be at stake.
In simple terms, the best criminal defense lawyer is the person who has the sort of expertise and experience that you need in your circumstances, so take your time finding your right legal partner and make sure you ask all the right questions before you say yes to their services.
Rosie Rowley is a Mama who always wants to look after her kids, even though they may now be adults who’ve flown the nest. She writes about parenting grown kids whether they want your help or not, how to be supportive and what to do when the worst happens.