Criminal Justice Attorney Kevin Bessant understands the difficult decision a person has to make when the times comes to select a criminal lawyer for representation in court. As if being charged with a crime, or coming under police investigation is not stressful enough, often times the task of finding not just any criminal attorney, but the right criminal attorney for your case will often be the most important decision you can make. If you or a loved one has been charged or accused of a crime, taking into consideration the following factors will greatly increase your chances of success of finding a great criminal justice lawyer to represent your case:
- Seek Experience: In most cases, one of the first questions that crosses a persons mind when searching for a criminal attorney to handle their case is “Can I afford representation”. While finances and your ability to pay an attorney is indeed a key factor, it should not be your first goal. Your first goal is to seek a criminal attorney who has the necessary experience to successfully defend your criminal charges, whether they be a misdemeanor or felony offense, or Federal criminal charges. Experience will include the number of years that particular attorney has been in practice; the number of cases similar to your case the attorney has handled in the past; whether the lawyer is familiar with your circumstances, the court or jurisdiction in which you are charged; the prosecutors who will prosecute your case and the relative police departments involved; and whether or not the lawyer is familiar with the Judge(s) who may hear your case in court. Experience in analyzing your case and determining the best trial strategy, options for a dismissal of the criminal charges, or even negotiating the best possible plea terms will be critical in your case and your selection of counsel.
- Track Record of Success vs Word of Mouth: While experience is definitely a key factor in selecting your criminal defense attorney, you will also want to consider the overall success record of your criminal attorney before hiring the lawyer of your choice. One major mistake often made is simply selecting a lawyer based on a ‘friend of the family recommendation’ or word of mouth about a particular lawyer, or even more common, the rationale of ‘I saw them on T.V. so he/she must be a good lawyer. The friend of the family lawyer may be an excellent bankruptcy attorney, but has little to no experience with the criminal courts. The lawyer you heard about through word of mouth or T.V. advertising may be a great lawyer, but may have little to no time to fully devote themselves to winning your individual case. This is why it is very important to interview your lawyer thoroughly to gauge not only the lawyer’s overall success, but whether or not they will provide the individualized attention your case deserves. Also be sure to check independent lawyer review sites such as Avvo Google, Facebook and other social media platforms to see what other past clients of the attorney has had to say about the criminal lawyer and their services.
- Lawyer/Client Compatibility: In most criminal cases, the lawyer and their client will be working together consistently to create a successful defense. This includes in person meetings, phone conversations, and even electronic messaging such as text or email depending on the attorney and client preferences. The first bad sign of a troubled attorney/client relationship is the lawyer who rarely, if at all, stays in consistent communication with their client regarding the case. While lawyers are not 24 hour concierge service where they are alway available, a returned call or communication with a client should always be within a 24 hour period or reasonable amount of time. Also, due to the stressful nature of facing criminal prosecution and possible jail/prison, a certain amount of confidence in your attorney to do their best possible job to reach the best possible outcome for your case will be very important to help ease that stressful burden to a certain degree.
- Finances: The final step in the decision process should be the financial consideration of hiring a criminal defense attorney. In making this decision it is important to maintain realistic expectations regarding the type of criminal charges you face, and the amount of time, experience and resources that will be needed to successfully defend your case. While a 1st degree murder case will always be more expensive than a routine misdemeanor traffic offense, a great lawyer is one who will defend each matter with the same amount of vigor and zealousness because they understand the impact that a criminal conviction will have of your lifestyle and livelihood. Many lawyers allow for payment plans and alternative financing options to accommodate you and your family. While there are many public defenders and court appointed attorneys who can be assigned your case, in many cases spending the extra monies to secure a successful defense to your criminal charges will pay dividends in the long run.