If you need a criminal defense attorney, there is a good chance you may not know where to look or what questions to ask when you find someone that may be able to help you. Even though you probably never expected to need a criminal defense attorney, you may need one at some point in your life. Put simply – things happen, and we have to deal with them when they happen. Here, we want to discuss 10 questions that you should ask a criminal defense attorney before you decide to work with them on your case.
Will you personally be handling the case?
Large law firms typically have multiple attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and others working on a single case. However, when too many people are handling the case, this can leave the defendant wondering who is actually in charge. Make sure that the attorney that you speak to will be the one handling your case and representing you in court.
How often do you make court appearances?
Feel free to ask how often a prospective attorney takes cases to court. Many criminal defense attorneys regularly settle cases through plea deals and have very little courtroom experience. You want to make sure that you have someone who can take your case all the way to court if necessary.
Do you have experience handling cases like this one?
Ask if the attorney has experience handling cases like yours. Criminal defense law is vast, and if you have a relatively complicated or unique case, you need to make sure you have an attorney who has handled a situation like yours.
How long have you been handling criminal defense law?
Feel free to ask an attorney how long they have been handling criminal defense cases. There is nothing wrong with hiring a brand new attorney, but your situation may require nuance developed over years of practicing law.
What are your legal fees?
You need to know how much your attorney is going to charge for their services. Your attorney will not begin working on your case until after they have received some type of payment and a fee arrangement has been arranged. Some attorneys work on a flat fee basis, while others work on an hourly basis.
Are there any other fees you are responsible for?
You need to ask an attorney if there are any other fees that you may be responsible for if your case goes to trial. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire experts to testify, and these experts are not cheap. Additionally, costs money to file complaints, briefs, and motions. Ask your attorney whether or not their legal fees include these additional fees.
What will you do to help with the case?
You can ask an attorney specifically what they are going to do that you are not able to do. Please understand that it is incredibly difficult to represent yourself in a criminal case, but you need to hear from your attorney how they will proceed forward, mainly so you can understand the complexity of what is going to happen.
Will I be able to contact you when I have questions?
Ask your attorney whether or not you will be able to contact them if you have any questions about your case. Inevitably, you will have concerns that will come up, and you need to know who you can call to get answers.
What are my obligations?
Ask your attorney what your obligations are for your case. In some cases, you may be expected to provide your attorney with various documents that will help them build a case. You will likely need to disclose various things that you feel uncomfortable about to your attorney. For example, if you have any past criminal convictions or outstanding warrants, your attorney needs to know this information so they can defend you properly.
Are there any past clients I can speak to?
You can ask if there are any previous clients of the attorney that you can talk to. For privacy reasons, this may not be possible, but you can also go online and read any reviews left on third-party review sites.