If you have been charged with a criminal offense, having an attorney is your constitutional right. The line is included in your Miranda Rights.
“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
You can get a public defender appointed by the courts or you can hire your own criminal defense lawyer.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is a decision that involves a variety of factors. How do you know who to hire?
The person that you do hire has to help advocate for your rights to get you the best possible outcome for your situation. You want someone you can trust to be capable of doing so. How do you decide?
Here, we will discuss the various factors that go into deciding which criminal defense lawyer to hire. By the end, you will have the tips that will lead to you making a criminal defense attorney decision in confidence.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a few things to look at when deciding which criminal defense attorney to hire:
- Location – When it comes to criminal defense, you usually want an attorney that is local. An attorney who is familiar with the ‘players’ in the system can help your case. The Sarasota County attorney knows the opposing counsel that they are going up against and how they function, as well as how the judge runs their courtroom.
If they are a good attorney, they have built a respected reputation and that can help when it comes to negotiations or being in the courtroom. People can view someone who is not local unfavorably or as an outsider. This can negatively affect you in the long run.
- Legal Experience – An experienced attorney is extremely important. Your life is hanging in the balance with this case, and whatever happens can affect your future. An experienced attorney can help aggressively get your criminal charges lowered or even dropped.
They can negotiate a lower sentence if your case gets settled, and they will argue your case well. An attorney with actual trial experience and years under their belt has more confidence and authority in presenting your case. Their skillset has been honed over the years and they are more comfortable and knowledgeable on what strategies to use within the criminal justice process, to try and get you the best possible outcome.
- Personality – You are beginning a business relationship with someone who is going to be your advocate. Everyone has different personalities, and you want to make sure that yours meshes with the attorney you are going to hire. They can be a skilled attorney but if you don’t get along, it can make the attorney-client relationship difficult. Depending on your case, you may be working together for some time and you want to work with someone that you feel comfortable with.
A good time to assess whether you and the attorney will be able to connect is during a case evaluation. Most attorneys offer those before deciding to take your case. It is their way to decide whether they believe your case holds enough merit and is one they want to take on. For you, it is a way to decide if this is an attorney you want to work with.
- Attitude – Attitude and personality are similar in rationale behind choosing your attorney. You want an attorney that you can trust and have rapport with. In addition, an attorney’s attitude can dictate how they work in the courtroom. Many criminal defense attorneys are aggressive, and if you want aggressive representation, you need to make sure your attorney has that characteristic. They need to be able to go after what is best for you with an attitude that is professional and effective.
- Price – Lawyer costs and fees can add up. Looking at the price is important if you do not have unlimited spending power. For some charges, you may be able hire an attorney for a flat rate. Generally, attorneys are hired on retainer and charge an hourly fee. If you end up going to trial it could be a long and costly process.
Be sure to speak with the attorney that you are considering hiring to try and get rough estimates of how much it could possibly cost, their payment plan structure, and how their billing system works.
Choosing a criminal attorney may seem like a daunting task, but if you know what to look for it becomes much more manageable. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that you hire someone you are comfortable with and confident in their abilities.
Make sure you have an open line of communication and that they are going to do their best to secure a positive outcome for you. If you have been criminally charged, hiring a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer is the first step.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and needs the services of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, contact Michael Fayard, Attorney at Law at 434 S Washington Blvd Ste. 200, Sarasota, FL 34236, or schedule an appointment via phone at (941) 306-1310.
What is the average cost of a criminal defense attorney?
According to surveys done by LegalMatch, the average cost for a criminal defense attorney in the United States in 2020 is $8,000 with average prices ranging from $1,000 – $15,000.
When should you hire a criminal defense attorney?
Hiring a criminal defense attorney is the best way to protect your rights and make sure you have a competent attorney. Many public defenders are overworked and may not be able to dedicate the same resources and legal representation to you as a private attorney.
What are good questions to ask a criminal defense lawyer?
When you sit down for your consultation, ask your criminal defense lawyer a few key questions such as:
What are your rates?
What are the cost estimates for a case such as mine?
What is the process moving forward for my case
What are the possible outcomes?
How do you bill and what is your payment plan?
How long have you been practicing?
What is your caseload?
Will I be working with you or another attorney at the firm?
What is your success rate?
These starting point questions will allow you to get an overview of how the firm works, how it would work with your case, and what you might end up paying in fees.