We all make mistakes, we do things that make us come into difficult situations.
And at these points in our life, we need to think hard about how to move forward and how to get out of the predicament we have found ourselves in. Your choice of criminal lawyers that will represent you will greatly impact the results of the trial. It can make the difference between getting the best possible outcome and being trialled as guilty. With this in mind, today, we will talk about some of the most important tips when it comes to hiring a good criminal lawyer to help you out.
1. Hire a criminal lawyer who specialized in criminal law.
Although this might sound extremely obvious, many law firms will offer services involving criminal defence, but that does not mean that they are also specialized in criminal law. Most of the time you are better off opting for a private lawyer, but if your choices are between a private lawyer who has almost no experience in criminal defence and a public lawyer that has years of experience, your best option would be the public lawyer (and cheaper). With this said, you should still focus on finding a suitable private lawyer/firm that has the adequate experience to represent you and your case. You may also ask them about the type of cases they have previously done so that you can get a vague picture of what they work best in and whether this is close to your predicament.
2. They tell you all of the fees at the start.
The financial aspect of a lawyer is what indicates a part of the trust between client and attorney. If they tell you all of their fees without hiding anything, you have no cause for worrying and can at least take a breather in that aspect of the case. Shady lawyers and attorneys who are looking to leech you out of your money will often hide parts of the fees and mention them only later during the trial. This is why making a written contract stating the specific amount of money that was agreed upon is crucial for your financial security.
Another thing you need to be aware of is extremely low prices. If a law firm is charging you a ridiculously low sum, it can only mean 1 of 2 things. They are either hiding fees from you that they will mention later, or they have an abysmal reputation for whatever reason. In either case, you should steer away from them.
3. Do they have strong referrals?
When looking for a trustworthy lawyer, you should always start with your close friends and family. Do they know any lawyer that has helped them before and would they be a good fit for your specific situation? In a similar way, you can also ask any lawyers with whom you have had previously had a pleasant experience whether they know of a good criminal defence lawyer that they would recommend to you.
You can also do independent research on any lawyers that seem interesting to you. You can search them up on the internet and see the results. Check the reviews that they got, although be aware that on some websites they might have the ability to delete the reviews which will lead to a selection bias, and thus you are back to square one.
Another option is just going to the lawyer directly and asking them for any referrals or previous clients that had a similar case like yours that you can talk to. Of course, they will choose the clients they know they left a good impression on but you will still be able to make some form of an image about them based on the conversation.
4. Opt for a lawyer who has experience and connection within the local courts.
Australia has, like the US, different laws in different states. Thus, having an experienced lawyer who has worked in the state where your trial will be held and using the laws of the said state will be critical for the success chance the trial. Another aspect you should ask is whether the lawyer in question is also familiar with the court in question, as most courts will have different procedures. Knowing the judge will also score you bonus points since the lawyer will know how the judge likes to handle things and what things they value. The connections and relationships that a lawyer has in the court is an often neglected aspect of choosing a lawyer and many people do not take even a minute to consider how this could impact their case. So, take a moment and ask around whether they have worked in the specific courthouse before and whether they are familiar with the personnel there.
5. Prioritize responsive lawyers.
When you are facing criminal charges, every second feels like agony, and the worst thing that you could have in your defence lawyer is for them to be semi-absent. You want to know that your representative will always be at your disposal and that you can count on them with any problems that you might have or with any questions that come to your mind. A good first impression should be based on how fast they reply to your emails or phone calls, as well as how fast they set up their initial meeting with their legal team. A strong indicator should be if the initial meeting is done within 24 hours. The entire legal process can be very stressful to many people, so if your lawyer is always there for you to reach out to them, the whole endeavour will be much more painless.
6. Do they have a solid background?
Experience makes all the difference in the court. A lawyer with years of experience will always outclass a lawyer who is new to the business and thus reach a much better verdict. This is why you should always look over the background of your potential lawyer. Their background in criminal law should be your highest priority, there is no point in hiring a family law attorney, who has only recently swapped to criminal law, for a defence case facing criminal charges.
This brings us to a valuable heads-up you should be aware of. The more experienced lawyers are better at their job, as we have established, and this means they will also charge extra for their services. This might seem overwhelming at first, but if you want quality then you should be ready to invest more into the lawyer. It really depends on how serious the criminal charges are.
Some of the most notable questions you should ask your potential lawyer are:
- How many years have they spent in criminal defence?
- What are the verdicts that their clients that were in your situation usually get?
- How much experience do they have with cases involving your specific offence?
If they refuse to answer any of these questions or just give you vague statements, you should be aware that something is not right.
7. Do you feel confident at the thought of them representing you?
What do you feel when you imagine this person representing you in court? Do they make you feel at ease? Does their confidence assure you that you will win? Knowledge of the topic, responsiveness, and a great portfolio are all great things but at the end of the day, you need to look at the human aspect of your lawyer. Do they appear confident to you? You always want to choose criminal lawyers who are confident in their abilities and how persuasive they appear to the jury.
There are some good initial indicators of whether the lawyer appears confident when you first meet. A firm handshake, direct eye contact, a reassuring voice, and maintaining proper posture are all signs of a lawyer who is experienced, knows what the client wants to see, and more importantly, what the judge and jury want to see. If their behaviour, knowledge of the topic, or anything else causes you to become more nervous than before, then you should change lawyers immediately.