Hiring a Private Criminal Defense Lawyer
A bit of advice for your consideration as you decide whether to hire an attorney or simply accept the free representation of a court-appointed lawyer. The bottom line is this: This is your life. You do not get second chances. You should not let a book or a guide (this one included) or general talk sway you too much one way or the other on such an important decision as who will represent you in a court of law. Instead you should diligently ask around and do your own research on prospective lawyers. Have your family and friends use the Internet and/or past court files to review the qualifications and experience of the federal criminal lawyers whom you are interested in hiring. Request a meeting with a prospective lawyer. And during that meeting, ask detailed questions about who he is and who his law firm is. For example:
1. Does the lawyer have a litigation staff?
2. Does the lawyer take every single case that walks in his door or is the lawyer selective?
3. What experience does the lawyer have in criminal court?
4. Does the lawyer exclusively handle criminal cases?
5. Has the lawyer handled your type of criminal case?
6. Does the lawyer have criminal trial experience?
7. Has the lawyer won your type of criminal case at trial?
8. Was the lawyer first chair or second chair in that criminal trial?
9. Is the lawyer too young and thus inexperienced?
10. Is the lawyer too old and thus cynical and jaded?
11. Did it seem as if the lawyer cared only about money?
12. Did the lawyer seem invested in you as a person and not just as a new client?
13. Does the lawyer have an office or does he work out of his house?
14. Is the office orderly? Is it organized? Is it impressive?
15. Do you trust the lawyer?
These questions — and more importantly the answers to these questions — matter because an overworked criminal lawyer will not have time to visit you if you are in custody and work on your case and an inexperienced criminal lawyer will not have the knowledge necessary to obtain the result you are looking to achieve. A lawyer who may be the perfect fit for one person may not be the perfect fit for someone else. In a way, the attorney-client relationship is a lot like a marriage so please choose wisely. Similar to a failed marriage, if an attorney-client relationship ends in a divorce you will be out a lot of money and short on time to find a replacement. That being said, we want to represent you. We encourage you to call us and interview us. If you are out of custody we will meet you in our office. If you are in custody we will come to you. When we do meet, please challenge us with tough questions. Please request information about our qualifications and our experience in criminal court. We actually litigate cases, not just plea-bargain them. Our experience and past results play a role in our success. We have won jury trials. We have won motions to suppress. We have won motions to dismiss. We have won appeals. We have won post-conviction motions. The bottom line is that we have stared down very long odds and beaten them. We cannot guarantee you a result (and any lawyer who does is lying) but we will wake each and every day with one goal in mind — succeeding in your case. We believe we have the experience, the drive and the compassion needed to help you through this tough time in your life. We take this job very seriously. Once you retain our law firm, we become a team. This is about more than money for our law firm. This is our reputation. This is your life. And we do not like to lose.