Choosing which criminal defense attorney to hire can be a difficult decision. There are quite a few lawyers out there. Unless you have a lot of experience, it is hard to know what information to consider. As you look through the advertising and websites, it can seem like they are all saying the same thing. Here are a few key points to consider that might make your choice easier.
A good place to start is by looking at the attorney's results page. Keep in mind that this is a list curated by the attorney, but there is still an opportunity to gather some useful information. Here are a couple of things to look out for.
Does the attorney have results for cases like yours? Some attorneys specialize in certain aspects of criminal law. If you have a felony theft case, for example, and you see a results page with only DWI victories, that lawyer might not be a good fit for you. On the other hand, there could be such a thing as too little specialization. You may be uncomfortable hiring a lawyer who does criminal cases, family law, bankruptcy, civil litigation, and personal injury if you are facing serious consequences.
Does the attorney have a diverse range of outcomes? Generally speaking, a criminal case will be resolved either by dismissal, plea, or trial. What you should be looking for is a variety of good results at each stage. Too many results of one type might indicate a lack of strength or experience in obtaining other kinds of favorable results. For example, a high number of trial results may mean the attorney lacks plea negotiation skills, and no trial victories on a results page is a certain indication that the attorney has not won a case in the courtroom.
Reviews are a great way to see what past clients are saying about an attorney. They can be tricky to interpret, though. The reviews that are on an attorney's website are placed there by the attorney. They can pick from among their best reviews or even create them out of thin air. Better is to do a google search for the lawyer and read the reviews there. Without focusing too much on any one entry, you can get a general sense of how they operate. You can even click on the reviewer to see other ratings they have done to gauge their reliability. One word of caution: some attorneys are known to buy reviews from foreign companies. If you see reviews from people who have one review for a cinema in California and 7 or 8 5-star reviews for the same firm in our area, run the other way. You have no business trusting someone who would behave like that.
Follow Your Instincts
This is, by far, the best way to choose the right criminal defense lawyer. Results and reviews can be used to give you an idea of which lawyer you want to talk to, but the impression you gather from your first consultation is more important than both of those combined. Human beings are social animals, and we pick up a myriad of subconscious clues from our interactions with other humans. After talking with a lawyer about your case for a short while you will have a good feeling for their level of competence and, more importantly, their integrity. This is going to be an important person in your life for a while, and you need to trust them implicitly. Just as importantly, you need to feel like you can be honest with them, that you can discuss your case openly and candidly so that they can represent you to the best of their abilities. And, most importantly, you need to feel like they care. If you are lucky enough to find a lawyer who you feel genuinely has your best interests at heart, you can achieve some level of calm in a difficult time.
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