7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges is daunting. It brings about the possibility of serving jail time. In the same vein, it can affect your reputation, tarnish your character, and put your future at risk even if you’re not convicted. With all the complexities of the criminal justice system and, pending outcomes that impact your future and your freedom, your first concern must be finding a qualified criminal defense attorney that will best represent you.
There are many factors to consider in order to land on the best criminal defense attorney. The below tips will aid in your research and help increase your chance for a favorable outcome.
1) Level of experience
Being accused of a crime is a very serious situation. You want to ensure that the attorney representing you and providing you with legal advice knows the law inside and out. Look for an attorney with experience in all courts (municipal, state, federal, superior) as sometimes jurisdictions of the courts overlap and your case may be heard in more than one court.
Equally as important as the level of expertise is success rate. There is no substitute for real-life experience, and experience without success means very little when you are facing the consequences of a crime. The best attorney has an impressive track record and verifiable success.
2) Avoid a public defender
It may be enticing to consider a public defender in order to avoid the cost of representation, but typically public defenders are inexperienced and loaded with cases. Because of this, they have very little time to address your case, answer your questions and are less likely to dedicate their attention to fight on your behalf.
3) Local connections
Having an attorney with local connections and established relationships is extremely helpful. Someone well connected will have a better understanding of local procedures, and first-hand experience with judges and prosecutors. They will know who entertains plea bargains, and which ones never consider them.
Armed with this valuable knowledge of the inner workings of the local legal scene, they’ll be more qualified to come up with a winning strategy to change the outcome of your case to the best possible one.
4) Board certification
Board certified criminal defense attorneys are the “best of the best”. You’ll be assured that your lawyer is proficient in the specialty legal field in which you have a legal need. Specializing in criminal defense, having a significant amount of jury trials, and an excellent reputation with judges and prosecutors increases the likelihood of a successful and aggressive defense.
5) In person interview
Researching websites, social media, reviews and testimonials of potential attorneys can provide useful information but nothing beats face-to-face. Take advantage of the free consultation most offer so you can form a personal impression, gauge whether or not the lawyer makes you feel comfortable, and get a sense if they are empathetic to your situation.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and check reviews, ratings, and references. Are they a trusted advisor you feel comfortable around and are you able to speak candidly with them? This is the time they will reveal their willingness to fight hard for you.
6) Accessible and available
Time is of the essence — time lost can mean case lost. Make sure your attorney is available not only to take your initial call, but promptly responds to your inquiries. An accessible and available attorney will arrange initial and subsequent meetings as soon as possible.
An attorney with the lowest fees is not always your best choice. Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for” – it is no different when it comes to legal representation. Subsequently, the highest fees aren’t necessarily in your best interest either. Generally, less experienced attorneys set lower fees, but be mindful when you come across an extremely low hourly rate.
An experienced attorney with a higher hourly rate may be able to resolve a case quicker and more suitable than a novice with a much lower hourly rate, thus being less expensive in the long run.
Be thorough, choose wisely. The imminent outcome and how your life will be once the case is closed depends on it. Invest the time and energy, do the homework and the research in order to select the attorney that is right for you. It is the most critical decision you’ll make, and choosing wisely makes all the difference in how your case will go and what the outcome is.
Fighting a criminal charge is not something you should leave to chance. The outcome of your case can change your entire future and it is important you get a good criminal defense lawyer to help you.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, speak with a skilled, experienced lawyer who is passionate about protecting the rights of his clients. John W. Tumelty has 30 years of experience in criminal law and knows exactly how to best position his clients.
He will meet with you, for free, to discuss your specific case and put his experience to work for you. Contact him today to learn more about your option for avoiding jail time or for getting your charges reduced. Tumelty has offices in Marmora, Somers Point, and Atlantic City NJ and represents clients from all over Atlantic and Cape May counties and beyond.
This article and other articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.