If you are faced with criminal charges, your freedom and livelihood are at stake. Hiring the right criminal defense attorney for your case can mean the difference between having y our criminal charges reduced or dismissed rather than spending time behind bars, paying high fees and fines, attending classes and potentially losing your family and/or your job. Before you hire a criminal defense attorney, you should ask the following questions:
1. How much experience do you have with charges like mine?
When hiring a criminal defense lawyer, it is important to remember that not all crimes are created equal. If you are charged with a serious felony, you wouldn’t hire an attorney that has only handled trespassing or DUI cases. Defending criminal charges, such as sexual assault, abuse, and neglect, or child pornography cases,require the attorney to have specialized knowledge and training. Just because an attorney says he is a criminal defense attorney that doesn’t mean he will be able to handle the specific type of charges you are facing. Make sure the attorney provides you with information that proves he is capable of handling your specific type of case.
2. What experience do you have taking cases like mine to trial?
If you are charged with a crime, you have to assume that your case will go to trial. Trying a case to a jury is different than trying a criminal case to a judge. Not all Nevada criminal matters get jury trials.
When hiring a criminal defense lawyer, you should ask whether the attorney has experience taking cases like yours to trial. Find out if they have had jury trial experience and ask about their success rate.
Regardless of whether the criminal defense lawyer has jury trial experience or not, make sure you hire an attorney who is familiar and confident with the trial process and not afraid to go to trial. Keep in mind that the prosecution can sense the fear of going to trial, which can have a detrimental effect on plea bargaining. Having an attorney who is ready and willing to go to trial can significantly improve the outcome of your case.
3. How much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to criminal law?
Lots of attorneys say they are criminal defense lawyers, but many only handle a criminal case here and there. In Las Vegas criminal defense, knowing the system, knowing the prosecutors and knowing what to expect from judges matters. Hiring an attorney that has a significant amount of their practice devoted to criminal defense is important. A good rule of thumb is to hire an attorney who devotes at least 50% of his/her practice to criminal defense.
4. Will the attorney you meet with be the one who handled your case?
Continuity of representation is critical to a positive outcome in any criminal matter. It is important that negotiations remain consistent and having the same attorney represent you from beginning to end is key. Many law firms will have you initially talk to an experienced lawyer and then assign your case to a less experienced lawyer. If you are hiring a lawyer because of his or her experience and reputation you will want to make sure that attorney will be the one actually defending you.
5. What is the criminal defense attorney going to charge for legal representation?
People often want to pay as little as possible when hiring somebody to perform a service for them. This may make sense when hiring pest control company or a plumber. But when you are charged with a crime you will want to hire the best lawyer for your case.
A low fee can mean the lawyer is not experienced. It may also mean that he or she handles a high volume of cases. Often,”volume” attorneys quote minimal fees because they intend to plead out your case without exploring all possible alternatives such as motions or trial.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t necessarily hire a lawyer who charges the highest fee. The fee charged doesn’t necessarily correlate with the level of service provided by the lawyer. Many times, “high power, high price” attorneys devote the majority of their attention to only their most prominent clients. A criminal defense attorney should treat all their clients as priorities regardless of the fee received.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime or needs a criminal defense attorney, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information. Our criminal defense lawyers are led by a former prosecutor who has tried hundreds of cases and handled thousands of criminal matters. We can help.