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Tips on Finding and Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

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how to find an attorney

There are ads for criminal lawyers on buses, taxis, in newspapers, and on the internet. Your husband has been arrested and is locked up in the local jail. Perhaps the charge is driving under the influence, or maybe it’s theft, or perhaps even assault. All you know at that point is that your husband needs a criminal defense lawyer. It is important to know that he needs not just any attorney, but a lawyer who concentrates on criminal cases. You would never want your internist to do your heart surgery and you definitely do not want an attorney who represented one criminal defendant last year to represent your loved one. Below are some helpful tips.

General Tips for Finding an Attorney:

1. Many Bar Associations have lawyer referral services. The attorneys are designated by category and pay to be listed.

2. There are numerous private lawyer referral services. The attorneys are designated by category and pay to be listed.

3. You can ask a friend or colleague who used a criminal lawyer in the past for a recommendation.

4. Ask an attorney friend, who would he pick to be  his lawyer in a criminal case.

General Tips for Choosing a Lawyer:

1. Check the lawyer’s website for the areas of law handled by the attorney. Does the attorney concentrate in criminal law or does he handle many different legal areas.

2. Beware of lawyers who guarantee results. It is improper for an attorney to make such a promise and common sense dictates that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes.

3. Interview several attorneys. Inquire how many criminal jury trials and criminal non-jury trials has he or she tried. Find out if the attorney has tried criminal cases in your jurisdiction.

4. Check your state bar website to see if the attorney is certified as a criminal law specialist in your jurisdiction. Some states do not certify attorneys as specialists.

5. Depending on income requirements, your family member may qualify for a public defender. There are many excellent public defenders, but keep in mind that many have heavy case loads.

6. Discuss fees with the attorney. Attorneys cannot charge contingency fees in criminal cases. Find out the attorney’s hourly rate or will the fee be a flat charge. The retainer agreement should always be in writing – not verbal.

7. Talk to the attorney during the interview and see if you are comfortable with him or her. Does the attorney actually listen to you?

There are many factors to consider when finding and selecting a criminal lawyer. The above are a few of the considerations that are important to this major  decision.

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Debbie
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Thank you for the article. Question: “Many Bar Associations have lawyer referral services” – how do you find the information from bar associations? I live in New Jersey – how would I find this info?

Matthew
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Tip 2 is a really good reminder: don’t trust attorneys who GUARANTEE results. If a lawyer (or doctor, for that matter) speaks in certainties you should know to be suspicious!!

Latisha
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My sister does not have money for a lawyer. What can she do?

David
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Great suggestions.

Gary
Guest

I also check lawyer’s client reviews on http://www.avvo.com

Jyoti
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There are two different types of reerfences that employers will ask for: professional and personal. For the professional, they will want ref’s from people that can “vouch” for your character; someone from a previous employer, etc ..perhaps some of your clients would provide ref’s for you ( that should be acceptable, despite what you think ). Personal ref’s can be neighbors, members of the Church, etc, etc