Hiring a criminal defense attorney, like hiring a DUI attorney, can be a difficult process. Criminal charges can have a serious effect on your personal and professional life. If you are facing criminal charges we understand it can be a very stressful time and you should take the matter very seriously. Consulting an experienced Fresno criminal defense attorney can help you protect your best interests and ensure your constitutional rights are not violated. Unfortunately, finding the best attorney in your area may not be easy. This article is designed to walk you through some important factors to consider when selecting an attorney.
Do I need a defense attorney?
Regardless of how minor the criminal charges you are facing are, it generally will benefit you to seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney. Most defense attorneys offer a free initial consultation which will allow you to ask questions to better understand the charge(s) against you, defense options available, plea bargains, and what to do if you are convicted. If you are facing serious criminal charges it is strongly advised that you have an experienced defense attorney represent you in court.
What does a defense attorney do?
It is not uncommon for people facing criminal charges to be unfamiliar with what a criminal defense attorney actually does. Criminal defense attorneys represent those who have been charged with a criminal offense or lawsuit. A criminal defense attorney will typically have greater knowledge of the court system; prosecutors involved in the case, and may have handled cases similar to yours which will allow them to better advise you of the options available. With an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney it may be possible to improve your situation or possibly get the case dismissed entirely.
Make sure the attorney specializes in criminal defense
You do not want to select an attorney who is unfamiliar with the charges you are facing. Many attorneys handle a wide variety of cases while some have a more specific focus. You want to select a criminal defense attorney who is willing to put in the time to sufficiently learn the details of your case and educate you on what your available options are while clearly answering any of your questions.
Should I use a public defender?
Public defenders are typically used in cases where the defendant cannot afford a privately hired attorney. Unfortunately, most public defenders have an overwhelming case load which stretches their time and resources very thin. This is not to say that public defenders do not have the best intentions when representing you, however, their work load may prevent them from devoting the appropriate amount of time to your case.
What should I look for in a criminal defense attorney?
This is a very important consideration when selecting your attorney. You want to look for an attorney who has excellent communication skills, a demonstrable experience handling criminal defense cases, and an ability to thoroughly and clearly answer your questions. If you feel the attorney you are meeting with is not meeting your expectations, it is likely not a good fit. Do not feel pressured to hire the first attorney you meet with, you owe it to yourself to find the best representation possible to handle your case.
Referrals are always an important consideration when selecting an attorney. It helps to do your research and ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other sources. You should consider associations the attorney belongs to, educational background, case history, experience, and their willingness to meet with you to discuss your case. You do not want to hire an attorney who is not willing to meet with you or who will pass your case on to a less experienced attorney within their firm. If the attorney is not willing to give you a face-to-face consultation, they are not the right attorney for you. Do not let advertising slogans fool you, many attorneys use advertising to try and sell you on their services, however, you should always meet the attorney to determine your comfort level and whether or not you feel they are capable in their skills to represent you in court. There is absolutely nothing wrong with consulting with an attorney and then choosing not to hire them.
How much does a defense attorney cost?
This is a difficult question to answer because an attorney can charge in various ways. The cost is typically based on how complex the case is. Some attorneys charge a flat fee, hourly rates, or fees for specific aspects of the case. If you have questions regarding the cost of your criminal defense, it is advised that you bring this up during your initial consultation. Make sure all fees are explained to you clearly so that you know exactly what you will be paying for, and when.