What to Look For in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
A good criminal defense attorney is a little like a good homeowner’s insurance policy: you hope you are never going to need it; but if the day comes where you do, having the right one is critical. Unlike a homeowner’s insurance policy, however, most people don’t think they will ever need the help of a criminal defense lawyer.
With that said, the need for legal representation is more common than you might think. Per a 2012 study, one in three Americans have a criminal record, and criminal charges are often the most serious accusations a defendant can face. If you or a loved one is facing a court date, having the right lawyer is an absolute must to keep you from facing serious jail time.
What to Look For in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you search for a criminal defense expert, there are a few things you will want to look for to find the right particular lawyer for your needs. Many cases are won or lost before the case ever gets to court, so finding the right criminal defense attorneys is a big step toward protecting your rights and winning your freedom. Here are a few things to pay attention to when hiring criminal defense lawyers!
Watch for How They Speak to You
When you sit down for your initial consultation with an attorney, you need to pay attention to the words they use. A good defense lawyer understands that you are not going to know all of the aspects of the law that can help you avoid jail time, so they will save the legal terms for the prosecutor and the judge.
Instead, they will talk to you in a language that you can understand. Whether it is citing legal articles that can help you craft a solid argument or pointing out how they have won similar cases to yours in their previous criminal law experience, a good defense lawyer will explain what your chances of success in court are and why.
From your position, you should feel comfortable telling your lawyer all of the facts about your case. The attorney-client relationship does protect the contents of your consultation, so you should feel free to tell your potential lawyer everything about your case and see how they respond.
Perhaps the state has overreached on the statute of limitations to charge you with a crime, something a qualified criminal defense attorney will pick up on upon hearing the date. The right lawyer for your needs will listen to you and then explain what position gives you your best chance of success in court.
Make Sure They Keep Their Expectations Reasonable
If you have ever watched a legal drama on television, you probably realized that the protagonist’s law firm wins their case around 95% of the time. It does not matter whether the case involved drunk driving, drug crimes, or criminal sexual conduct; the protagonist criminal defense lawyer will almost always find some legal strategy to pull out a win from nowhere.
That is Hollywood for ya! In real life, however, criminal defense attorneys understand that sometimes the evidence is so strong that winning the case is highly unlikely if the prosecution correctly does its job. A good criminal lawyer will give the defendant a realistic picture of the case and explain what your best options are based on the evidence at hand and how strong of a case the prosecution has built.
In most cases, the criminal law expert will tell you to pursue the case at trial, especially if the district attorney has not presented a very strong case in pretrial discussions. However, if the DA chooses to offer a generous settlement, especially with reduced or no jail time, a good lawyer might very well advise you to plead guilty.
What you are looking for here is honesty and transparency from your potential defense lawyer. Most law firms have enough experience with criminal cases to know when they can fight a charge and when they can’t; and when it comes to criminal law, you need an attorney that both understands when to fight and will honestly tell you if your fight is winnable.
Count on Their Criminal Law Experience
When it comes to the criminal justice system, experience is one of the most important things you can have on your side. Given that most cases are won or lost before court ever begins, having the best criminal defense attorney on your side is one of the best things you can do to maximize your chances of success.
That starts with making sure you are using the right lawyer for the task when you sit down for your free consultation. It is pretty obvious to most people that they don’t want to hire an attorney who is fresh out of law school. However, many people do not realize that the law has so many branches that different parts of it can be esoteric to those who have not made that branch of the law their specialty. For example, you might know a friend who is a successful lawyer; but if their specialty is family law, they are not going to be much help if you are facing white collar crimes in criminal court.
Instead, you want someone who has a proven track record of successfully defending clients in criminal court. Not only does such a lawyer bring plenty of knowledge to the table, but they have likely got past experience that they can draw on for your case.
Local attorneys’ knowledge can be even more valuable because, in many cases, they have argued in front of the judge before and have an idea of what kind of arguments are more likely to succeed in front of them.
Their Approachability Can Help Ease Your Comfort Level
Big law firms might have impressive sounding names and several degrees on the wall, but one thing that gets lost in all those law school accolades is the personal touch of having rapport with your client. At a big law firm, you might find that the criminal defense attorney you want for your case is not available because they have been taken by several other cases, leaving you to be handed off to an associate.
Smaller firms are far less likely to do that to their clients. Instead, they will make sure that your free consultation is with the lawyer you will be working with and that you keep working with that lawyer for the duration of your case. If you have got new documentation for them or you would like to clear up a question about your legal record, you will get your criminal defense attorney and be able to talk through all of the details with them.
Remember, names are not what wins cases, and that is especially true in the case of criminal defense cases. What wins cases is hiring the right criminal defense lawyers and giving them the information they need to win your case. That is not easy without genuine approachability, which can be a big advantage of working with local attorneys when you need legal assistance.
A Confident Demeanor Shows How They Will Perform in Court
Your defense attorney might not use the same language in front of you that they would in front of a judge, but you can still pick up on a few things when they speak during your free initial consultation.
First, they should speak confidently when they are discussing the facts about your case. A lawyer that is not confident about the case in front of you is not likely to be confident in front of a judge or jury. Courtroom confidence is an essential part of a winning legal strategy, and if you are not seeing it from a potential lawyer, you should move on to someone else.
Second, they should project confident body language. People pick up on body language far more often than you might think, and if your lawyer’s movements don’t match their words, the jury is not likely to trust the things they are saying.
Finally, your criminal defense lawyer should not project arrogance. Confidence is a great thing, but nobody likes to feel like someone’s talking down to them. When your attorney explains things to you, you should get the sense that they believe in what they are telling you and that they respect your intelligence.
The way they talk to you is a preview to how they might talk to a jury, so it is important to pay close attention before hiring a criminal defense lawyer. If the jury does not feel like they can believe what the lawyer is telling them, your chances of beating criminal charges will drastically decrease.
Hire Blank Law, PC to Be Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
Whether it is drunk driving, child abuse, or a sexually-based crime, every criminal charge is a serious one and must be treated as such. Most criminal defense attorneys will tell you that the best thing you can do is hire a criminal lawyer you trust and let them examine every aspect of your case.
Even if a case seems to be hopeless, having the best criminal defense attorney increases the chances of finding a workable strategy to either land a reduced punishment in court or even get acquitted if the prosecution makes an error.
The only way to give yourself a chance to protect your rights and possibly avoid jail time is to take the time to find the best criminal defense attorneys for your specific case. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker by calling Blank Law, PC at (248) 515-6583 or reach out to us online for your initial criminal defense attorney free consultation. We are here to help protect the rights of the accused!