In part one of this short series, I talked about taking the initial steps in hiring a criminal defense attorney for your needs – today I’d like to take you through the rest of the way.
Depending on your case, there are certain pertinent questions you’ll need to ask any prospective criminal defense lawyer, however, here are just a few general ones;
- How long have they been practicing criminal law?
- How many open cases do they have?
- Do they have actual trial lawyer experience?
- How often do they appear in court?
- How much time will they have to devote to my case?
- Who will handle my case – will it be the criminal defense attorney or a hired paralegal or associate?
If a criminal defense attorney has a lot of open cases, and if they are appearing in court several times a week, are they going to be able to give your case the attention it needs? What if your case needs a lot of attention, or is particularly challenging? What if it’s unprecedented – will the lawyer have the time (and expertise) to devote to it?
Check out your criminal defense attorney beforehand
Before you commit to hiring a lawyer, do a little detective work yourself; these are the best lawyer reference-checking resources available, and we strongly recommend using them when seeking a lawyer for any reason:
Get everything in writing
Before engaging the services of a criminal defense lawyer, you should find out their fees and costs through to resolution, and insist they put into writing, everything that you have both agreed to, including up-front, scheduled, and final payments, plus any ongoing costs. You should also have in writing, any additional costs, such as court fees, that you will be liable for. Be aware that some criminal defense attorneys will quote you a fee for the initial hearing, and then threaten to drop your case if you don’t pay them more money. It goes without saying that you should pay your lawyer with a check or credit card if you can, and if not, get a receipt for every cash payment you make.
Serious cases need serious lawyers
Finally, do be aware that the more grave your case is, the more experienced with serious cases your criminal defense attorney needs to be, so keep away from ones who only ever represent lower-level cases. Remember that if you are accused of a serious crime, your case may go to trial, so hiring a criminal defense attorney is an absolute must.
Here is a short list of questions which could help you determine whether a criminal defense attorney, is able to deal with the gravity of your case;
- How many trials as lead counsel has this criminal defense lawyer had? You really want the answer to be at least 10.
- How many serious trials has this lawyer won? Are they willing to let you have a verifiable list for you to check?
- Has this lawyer had any experience of Federal Court? If it’s likely that your case may go to that far, you’ll need a criminal defense attorney who has Federal Court experience.
- What happens if you are sentenced, and want to appeal? Is this lawyer experienced with handing appeals?
I hope this series has given you a better idea of what to look for when hiring a criminal defense attorney. If you would like to speak to a Queens criminal defense lawyer, then call Richard Cary Spivack on 718-544-1000 today for a free consultation, or send me an email to see how I can help you with your case.