How to Select a Criminal Defense Attorney
Selecting the right criminal defense attorney for yourself or a loved one can be one of the hardest parts of any run-in with the law. This guide was created to help you get through this challenging time and hopefully make the process of finding the right attorney easier.
1. Determine if you need a defense attorney.
If you are facing a criminal charge, no matter how minor, you could benefit from talking to a defense attorney. Even if you decide not to hire the attorney to represent you in court, a consultation with him or her could help you to understand the charges against you, the defenses available to you, what plea bargains might be offered to you and what to do if you are convicted. If you are facing a serious charge, it is highly recommended that you have a defense attorney represent you in court, rather than just consult with him/her before your trial.
2. Know what a defense attorney does.
Criminal defense attorneys are the attorneys that represent people charged with criminal conduct or have had a lawsuit filed against them. Criminal defense attorneys who concentrate their practice on criminal defense often know the prosecutors involved, can get concessions that other attorneys miss, have probably handled cases similar to yours and can better advise you of your options.Defense attorneys will also identify key pretrial issues, issue motions that can improve your situation or even get your case dismissed.
3. Know what kind of defense attorney you need. You will need to determine if you need a state or federal attorney.
If you have broken a state law, hire an attorney that specializes in state law. State law cases include traffic violations, broken contracts, robberies and family disputes, among others. Federal cases include, but are not limited to, cases involving violation of the US Constitution, cases in which the United States is a party, bankruptcy cases, copyright cases and patent cases.
If you are being charged with breaking a federal law, you will want to hire a more experienced defense attorney who will be able to dedicate a large amount of time to your case. Because cases that involved federal law are often more complex, federal defense attorneys often require more prestigious credentials and experience than state attorneys.
The key difference between breaking state and federal laws is that when you break a federal law, you are prosecuted by the United States Attorneyâs office. A prosecutor from this office has more time and resources to dedicate to prosecuting you, so it is likely that the prosecution will be much stronger than in a state case. You will want a seasoned, respected criminal defense attorney to represent you in this instance, as they have more of a chance of winning your case.
4. Get a criminal defense attorney who concentrates his/her practice in the area of defense that you need. Many criminal defense attorneys not only handle routine criminal defense cases but some concentrate in a particular area of defense. Some focus on rape defense, violent crime defense or other areas of specialty. No defense areas absolutely require a lawyer who concentrates in the area, and in many areas there are so few lawyers that getting one that concentrates on a specific crime is impossible. Get a lawyer who is willing to put in sufficient time to learn about your case and your defense.
5. Understand the difference between a defense attorney and a public defender.
Public defenders are generally reserved for people who cannot afford private attorneys. However, public defenders have very little time and resources to work on your case and result in less justice, according to research done by the Justice Policy Institute.
6. Determine what kind of qualities are important to you.
Good qualities to look for in a defense attorney include excellent communication skills (to better argue your case), good track record, experience with your specific sort of crime and excellent negotiating skills.
7. Do your research.
Doing a thorough interview with a background search on your attorney is the only way to be sure you are getting what you are paying for. Find out what legal organizations the lawyer belongs to. At the very least, he/she should belong to the County and State Bar Associations. If he/she belongs to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, or to the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, that is a good indication he/she has more than a passing interest in criminal defense.
How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.
Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.