A criminal conviction comes with many penalties that can affect the rest of your life. An experienced attorney who will exhaust their resources to build your case can have your charges reduced or eliminated, so choosing the right criminal defense attorney can make all the difference. Here are some tips to help you find a criminal defense lawyer.
The penalties for a felony conviction include a minimum sentence of one year in state prison, as well as the loss of the right to vote, hold office or sit on a jury. You may not even be able to possess a firearm and, if convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), you could lose your driver’s license for several months or even years. Additionally, a conviction can show up in a public record search whenever you apply for a job, a loan, or for housing.
But even a misdemeanor carries with it penalties such as probation, fines, community service, and required rehabilitation classes. In the case of a DUI, these may be drug or alcohol-related educational courses. Misdemeanors carry with them a maximum jail sentence of 12 months, typically at a local jail.
With all of these on the line, it behooves you to hire not only a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney but one with an excellent track record fighting for their clients.
Any attorney you choose should have excellent client reviews, significant accomplishments, and have experience winning important cases, advises attorney Stephen G. Cobb. Membership in the American Bar Association or a state bar association is a strong sign of an attorney’s quality. You want to ask about their track record, and how they have been able to help clients who had the cards stacked against them.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
You want to choose the best attorney for you, not necessarily the attorney from the biggest law firm. While your attorney is not going to be your therapist, they do guide you through one of the most stressful and vulnerable periods of a victim’s life. You want someone with patience and compassion who is going to explain to you your options, provide clarity on legal proceedings, and put you and your interests first.
Some big firms bring in potential new clients, show them around and make them feel very special. But then those victims hardly ever hear from their attorney, and when they call they speak to a legal aide about their case rather than their attorney. Although these aides are graduates of law school and are exceptionally sharp, most of the time they’re early in their career. You want to be represented by an experienced attorney that you can speak to when you need them. A boutique law firm offers this more personalized service and focused attention on your case because they’re not trying to cater to several different clients.
Areas of Practice
It’s important that you pick an attorney who specializes in the specific type of criminal law that you need. There are many different types of criminal law from arson to assault and battery. You would not want to be represented by one of those attorneys if you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).