Anyone facing criminal charges will want an attorney who can offer professional legal advice and represent them effectively in a court of law. However, it is challenging to determine what makes a criminal defense lawyer excel at their job, especially if it is your first time being charged with a crime. If you’re wondering what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer, here are five traits that can help steer you in the right direction.
Good Attorneys Have Experience
An important trait to look for when finding a lawyer to defend you in court is their experience. Asking them how many years they have spent offering legal defense against criminal charges will provide insight into how familiar they are with the court. A capable criminal defense attorney should be comfortable with the law and know all of the basics of the legal system without having to look them up.
Additionally, an experienced lawyer is one that demonstrates confidence in their profession, rather than one who appears nervous. Inquiring into their experience in the courtroom can offer a good sense of their familiarity with it and whether they are a lawyer you can place your trust in while standing before a judge or jury.
Read Their Reviews
If you are searching for other ways to determine if a criminal defense lawyer is experienced and a good fit for your case, then read reviews that past clients have left regarding their representation. The internet is an excellent source of information, as you can read testimonials left on the website of an attorney’s law firm or read reviews left on lawyer rating sites. It is also possible to visit the state bar association online to learn if an attorney has the right qualifications.
However, as useful as online reviews are when finding an attorney, they are not infallible. Some attorney reviews may be biased and not entirely reflective of an individual’s performance. One of the better ways to learn about an attorney’s experience is through a referral. After asking an attorney to share their referrals, you can obtain firsthand knowledge regarding a past client’s experience with a criminal defense attorney.
Familiar With Your Circumstances
Even if you manage to find an attorney that has an excellent track record and proven experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to help your particular type of case. There are many different kinds of criminal charges, such as drunk driving or illegal drug usage, and given how complex the law can be, each type of crime has its own nuances. As a result, some lawyers specialize in specific areas of the law, meaning that even if an attorney has proven skill, it may not be in an area of expertise that pertains to your situation. Therefore, it is best to hire a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling your specific case and the circumstances surrounding the charges.
Not only is an attorney’s skill set essential, but so is their familiarity with the local court. Even if they all abide by the same law, each court has its own staff and proceeding style that differs from others in the country and even in the same state. There are many different ways that finding an attorney who has experience at the local level can be beneficial to your case, including:
- Local lawyers will be more familiar with how police officers in the area testify in court before a jury.
- Defense lawyers who have served in a local court before will have a better understanding of how the judge operates.
- If a defense attorney happens to know the prosecutor who also serves in the local area, then it may be useful in handling any potential plea negotiations..
Another key trait to look out for when finding an attorney is how well you communicate with them. Because collaboration between a defendant and their lawyer is essential, it is imperative that they are someone you are comfortable speaking with. The legal process can be incredibly stressful, especially for someone preparing to take the stand in court. Yet, having a lawyer at your side who is able to answer questions and clearly explain what is going on will make the process much smoother for you.
Communication matters in other ways as well. Time is of the essence when it comes to the legal system, meaning that you will want a lawyer on your side who can respond quickly to your questions. Even if they are busy, lawyers who take the time to call you directly appear much more reliable than those who do not.
Watch for Red Flags
While there are many positive traits you want to look for in a potential lawyer, there are also some red flags you must look out for as well. Examine how they handle financial matters. If the fee is too low, it may appear like a good price, but there may be hidden fees they don’t tell you about directly. For example, some attorneys do a pretrial fee and a trial fee if your case goes to court but may not tell you about them in advance. A good defense lawyer will have a clearly laid out fee structure, which is a sign of honesty.
Another trait you will want to look out for when finding an attorney is whether they offer a guaranteed acquittal. Some lawyers and firms may use the promise of a guarantee to lure you into a deal, which is especially effective against those who are afraid of jail time or fines. Always remember, no attorney can guarantee the outcome of a court proceeding.
If you ever need assistance fighting a speeding ticket in New Jersey, you can rely on the Shugar Law Office. Our seasoned team of attorneys can lend their legal expertise defending you against numerous kinds of criminal charges, including simple assault in NJ. To learn more about how we can assist you, call the Shugar Law Office today.