After an arrest, the next step to take is to hire a lawyer. It is important to take this step carefully, as having the right lawyer to work with can make a huge difference in the outcome of a case. So, what do you look for? When looking for a defense lawyer, check their experience, who will actually be handling the case, how they handle communication, their fees, and how they feel about the potential outcome. All of this together can help provide a better picture of whether a lawyer is the right one to handle the defense.
Always check into their experience before deciding to hire a defense lawyer. Criminal law is a broad topic, so it is important to work with a lawyer who has handled similar cases before. A lawyer who typically handles cases related to theft might not have the experience needed to tackle a case for drug possession. Along with the types of cases, check the amount of experience they have in the local area. It’s better to work with a lawyer who has been in the area for a significant amount of time, as they are familiar with everyone else involved locally in court cases.
See Who Will Handle the Case
Cases aren’t handled start to finish by the lawyer. In many cases, a paralegal will handle a lot of the work, and this is who will answer questions, schedule appointments, and prepare documents. They cannot, however, provide advice for any legal situation. The lawyer will oversee everything the paralegal does, but the paralegal will do the bulk of the work. This can save the client money since the paralegal’s billable costs are lower. Ask about who is handling the case to see if the lawyer will do the majority of the work or if there will be a paralegal assisting them.
Look Into Communication
Ask about the lawyer’s preferred methods of communication and how long it should take to receive a response. While the case isn’t the only one the lawyer will be working on, it shouldn’t take a few business days to receive a response. Don’t forget to ask how to contact the lawyer if there is an emergency. Emails are a great way to communicate because it’s easy to refer back to them if needed, but in an emergency, a phone call may be needed to get a faster answer.
Ask About Fees
Make sure the fee schedule is easy to understand. In most cases, the lawyer will require their client to pay a retainer. This is not the full cost of representation, but more like a down payment. The lawyer’s billable hours go against the retainer. When the balance of the retainer gets too low, the client may need to add more funds. Ask about how the retainer works, when it will need to be funded again, what payment methods are acceptable, and how much the fees are for various services that may be needed, like phone calls with the lawyer.
Along with the technical details of what to know before hiring a lawyer, don’t forget to consider how they feel about the case. Look for a lawyer who is confident they can improve the potential outcome of the case. The lawyer shouldn’t make promises, as these often can’t be kept, but should feel like they can help make a difference. Once the right lawyer is found, start working closely with them to defend against the charges.