When you’ve been accused of a crime, your freedom and future are on the line. Your best chance of getting the best outcome often depends on who you’ve hired to defend you in court. With that in mind, it’s essential to do your homework before choosing a new criminal defence lawyer. Before you make your decision, consider asking them the following questions:
Is There a Fee for the Initial Consultation?
The first criminal defence lawyer you meet with may not be the one you end up choosing to represent you in court. However, if you’re made to pay for a consultation, you may feel obligated to have them represent you to save money.
Before you arrange a meeting with a new lawyer, ask whether the initial consultation is free. If it’s not, find a lawyer that does offer a free consultation.
How Much Experience Do You Have?
Though a free initial consultation is a good thing, you may find that the less you pay, the less experience a lawyer can have. While that doesn’t mean you aren’t benefiting from an adequate legal defence team, you may not be convinced they have enough experience in cases like yours.
With this in mind, it’s important to find out whether they have represented people in situations like yours. Most importantly, what were the outcomes? The more confidence you have in your lawyer, the better your outcome may be.
How Do You Charge?
Though adequate legal representation is the most important consideration, there’s no harm in finding out how your chosen defence lawyer charges and what they charge. Some lawyers offer flat-rate fees for simple cases, while others advertise an hourly rate.
You may also need to become familiar with retainer fees and statutory fees. Retainer fees are a deposit toward the total costs of your legal services, whereas statutory fees are a set amount a lawyer can charge for particular services.
Do You Specialize in Criminal Law?
While there’s nothing wrong with a general practice lawyer who can assist with all manner of legal problems, it can certainly be worth your while to ask your preferred lawyer whether they specialize in criminal law. If you’re involved with a drug trafficking charge, it would be helpful if they specialize in that area or had prior experience.
If all they deal with every day are criminal cases, they are likely to understand the relevant laws and codes inside and out. This knowledge will serve you well in a courtroom setting.
Will You Be Easy to Contact?
Legal problems don’t always happen inside the 9-to-5 working week. You might be arrested by police at 10 pm, or require legal assistance at 3 am. Find out how easy it will be for you to get in touch with your lawyer if you need their help.
Fortunately, some of the best lawyers have 24/7 live answering services. You may also find that they are more than happy to work around your schedule, offering appointments after work and on weekends.
Do You Have Testimonials?
Many people read reviews before purchasing a product, so why wouldn’t you read testimonials before hiring a lawyer? During your initial consultation, ask whether they have any reviews from past clients they would be willing to share. You may even see some on Google or your chosen lawyer’s website. These should give you more confidence in your decision.
When you’re trusting a lawyer to provide you with the best possible outcome in a courtroom, don’t be afraid to do your homework. The more questions you ask a prospective criminal defence lawyer, the easier it should be for you to decide if they are the right lawyer for you.