If you ever get charged with any crime, may it be a traffic offense or a felony, you need to get a good attorney who will help you reduce the sentencing or have the charges dropped. Sometimes finding a good lawyer can be a challenge since you may not know one or you do not have the time to search for one. Now, you might be asking yourself, where do you start when it gets to this point?
- You can always go online find law firms’ sites, get the number of attorneys and contact them
- If you have ever had a lawyer before and s/he doesn’t practice criminal defense ask them to refer you to a colleague who can assist you.
- Ask your friends and relatives to refer you.
What does a skilled criminal defence lawyer do? Well, they research the facts, investigate the case against their client, and also negotiate a favorable deal with the prosecutors for their clients. These deals may include a lesser charge, reduced bail, or reduced sentencing. Due to some factors like overcrowding in jails, political pressure, and overloaded case orders, deal-making between prosecutors and attorneys has become essential to unclogging the justice system. The attorneys also examine the witness, analyze the prosecutor’s case, formulate a plea deal and assess the case and the likeliness of the judge giving out the sentence.
Here’s what you should consider when looking for a skilled criminal defense lawyer.
Communication skills- during this critical period you will need a lawyer that can explain things to you in a way that you can understand. You should have trust and confidence in them. Check how often they can communicate to you about your charges and case, and how best you can contact them during this period.
Check their record of success- you want the best outcome for your case so you will want a lawyer with an excellent track record in both taking cases to trial and negotiating plea deals. This is very important as some cases can be resolved through accepting a plea bargain while others cannot. Your attorney should ensure your case is thoroughly investigated and should not be afraid to take it to trial.
Experience- it is important to have a lawyer that is experienced in criminal defense cases and has handled cases similar to yours. Since laws differ in criminal cases than in civil cases, you should have a lawyer who understands the laws well.
Investigative and creativity skills- investigation skills include; comprehension, analytical, and inquiry, these are advantageous when your lawyer has them. Having a lawyer that can dig through the evidence files and into facts can help you win. They should be systematic on how to handle the available resources. Also, they should be fast thinkers and shouldn’t miss any critical details on the case. Creative lawyers should not always follow the norm but rather should come up with solutions to help the client.
Legal fees- as much as you want a good lawyer you should consider the one that’s charging you what you can afford. This should not be a major key to check when choosing a lawyer but it is important.
Choose a local attorney- you might think outsourcing an attorney is great but it is good for you to consider a local attorney. They are familiar with the courts’ rules and procedures to be followed. Also, they have a relationship with the prosecutors and judges.
Honesty- your main goal is to win, you need a lawyer who will always reassure you of this. However, your lawyer should not give you false hopes, rather should be transparent with you about the situation.
Check their reviews- check what their former clients say about them and read the reviews. It is important to have a third-party opinion before making such a decision.
When you get accused of a crime, it’s stressful and all you want is for things to change for the better. Do not rush yourself into getting an unskilled lawyer to handle your case as it might get you into more serious trouble. Use the above qualifications to determine your lawyer.
Is a court-appointed attorney better than a hired private attorney?
You might be wondering, do I need to hire an attorney since the court provides one? Many private attorneys have worked as prosecutors or public defenders. A research study that was based on studies that evaluate the outcome of having a court-appointed attorney compared to hiring a private attorney, the data used revealed that the results of the defendant are the same. A case study indicated that defendants represented by private attorneys and those who were represented by court-appointed attorneys fared similarly in sentencing and conviction rates, noting that those who were represented by panel attorneys fared worse. This data however is unreliability due to some complicating factors like defendants represented by private lawyers having short or no criminal records while the others are twice likely to be repeat offenders.
Another question you may ask is, can a private attorney bargain for a better plea deal compared to a court-appointed? Well, the skills, experience, and commitment of that lawyer to your case are what indicate if you can get a good plea deal.
Self-representation during court cases
Having an experienced lawyer to represent you in court is wise but some defendants choose to represent themselves in court. This decision is not made by the defendant rather it is the judge who decides if they can represent themselves. The judge needs to prove the defendant is competent enough, this is because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense will not get a fair trial. When determining the competency of a defendant the judge uses these factors;
- The seriousness of the crime committed, i.e murder
- The defendant’s level of education and communication skills
- Whether the defendant is willingly giving up his rights to counsel and,
- Whether they understand the nature of proceedings.
When searching for a private defense lawyer look for the one who specializes in criminal defense and practices jurisdiction in a county or city where you are charged. A local attorney is familiar with the judge and prosecutor. In an instance where you cannot afford to cater for the fees, the court will provide you with a lawyer after you fill out the paperwork about your financial resources.