If you’ve been charged with a crime—whether it’s a DWI, domestic assault, debt collection, personal injury or criminal sexual conduct—you need a competent criminal defense. The right criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a reduced plea bargain, outright dismissal of the charges against you and jail time. As FindLaw explains:
“Being charged with a crime — whether major or minor — is a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.”
You Need an Expert in Your Corner
The first reaction most people charged with crimes have is confusion. That’s because the laws regarding criminal offenses are complicated, and the possible penalties complex. The right lawyer can answer all your questions, explaining for example the nature of the charges filed against you, what your best defense will be, whether a plea bargain is your best course of action, and what penalties (if any) are likely if you’re convicted.
How Do I Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer for My Case?
First, you need to understand that no lawyer can handle every case. Some, for example, have expertise in handling civil cases, while others exclusively practice criminal law—and some, especially if you live in a small town, handle both.
In other words, the fact that a lawyer did exemplary work helping you draft a will or buy a house doesn’t mean that lawyer understands the nuances of criminal law where you live. You need a lawyer with specific knowledge and experience successfully handling cases like yours. In most cases, it’s advisable to hire a local lawyer who has actually handled cases in the courthouse where your case will be tried—this because legal procedures differ from one region, and even one courthouse, and another.
There are many ways to find lawyers with the experience you need. One is to get referrals from trusted friends and family members who faced similar charges. You can also use the internet to compile a list of lawyers who handle cases like yours, then meet with several of them to determine which one if best to handle your case.
How Do I Interview Prospective Lawyers?
When you walk into a criminal lawyer’s office, you shouldn’t leave your common sense or gut instincts at the door. The first thing you need to do is assess the lawyer’s demeanor.
Do you have his full attention, or is he continually interrupting your conversation taking phone calls from other clients? Does he ask meaningful questions about your case? Is he empathetic and caring, or do you get the feeling all he wants is your money?
How Should I Prepare for Meetings with Prospective Lawyers?
Before you begin interviewing prospective lawyers, make sure you have all the relevant documentation that will help him or her better assess your case. Typically, this includes things like:
- any documents you received from the court
- paperwork related to a search of your home or business
- the police report regarding the incident
- your bail papers
What Questions Should I Ask?
Meetings with criminal lawyers are not something you do on the fly. Come prepared with a list of specific questions, the answers to which will help you choose the right criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.
The questions you ask will differ depending on the nature of the charges against you, but in general you should ask questions that cover the lawyer’s background and experience, your legal options and how he or she will manage your case.
Be prepared to ask the following 10 questions (among others you deem relevant):
- How long have you practiced criminal law?
- How many times have you appeared in the courthouse where my case will be tried?
- Have you worked with this prosecutor before, and what were the outcomes?
- What percentage of your cases have gone to trial?
- Should I plead guilty, seek a plea agreement or got to trial?
- What aspects of my case are favorable?
- What are the biggest problems with my case?
- What will happen at the different stages of my case, like the arraignment, the motions hearing, the disposition and the trial?
- Will you be the only lawyer handling my case, or will others be involved (and, can I meet them)?
- Who do I call if I have questions or problems, and how quickly will you get back to me?
We Can Help Defend You
Admittedly, the criminal law process can be complicated—even frustrating at times. The good news is that you don’t need face criminal charges alone.
We are a criminal law firm in St. Paul, Minnesota, serving the Twin Cities area. We have deep experience in a wide range of criminal and personal injury law and handle cases involving DWI, criminal sexual conduct, domestic assault, murder, aggravated robbery and criminal vehicular operation, among others. We work hard to secure fair conclusions for our clients so they can move on with their lives.
To learn more about the ways we can help you with your criminal case, contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.