Many Floridians suddenly find themselves face-to-face with criminal charges they never expected. When inhibitions are down and risky decisions lead to a DUI, drug charge, or alternative felony or misdemeanor offense, quickly seeking out an attorney is a common reaction–and really the first step to remedying the issue.
Most people are left so jarred by an arrest and the charges they’re facing—they simply jump the gun when hiring a criminal lawyer. Many pick the first attorney to offer that alluring, “free consultation.” Don’t make that mistake.
Most lawyers (myself included) offer an initial consultation at no cost, but it’s important you are prepared to ask the tough questions that will shed light on the future of your defense.
This post includes five questions that will help you connect with the right attorney, so you can be on your way to securing the best possible representation.
Have You Had a Client With a Situation or Charge Similar to Mine?
Asking a criminal attorney about their experience with clients like you will serve two purposes: You’ll get a better understanding of what to expect now that you’ve been charged with a specific offense, and you’ll also get a feel for an attorney’s familiarity with the charge and the effectiveness of their defense strategies for that particular charge. If the lawyer has in fact had an array of experience with clients similar to you, be sure to inquire about the outcome of those cases.
Are You the Attorney That Will Actually be Handling My Case?
You may have been promised a free consultation with a viable criminal attorney. Now you have to take steps to ensure that the attorney you handpicked will actually be the one taking on your case and representing you. Don’t back down on this, if you don’t stand your ground you may find yourself stuck with an amateur lawyer and an ineffective defense.
Do You Have any Experience as a Criminal Prosecutor?
A lot of defense attorneys have prior litigation experience on the other side of the courtroom. Working a case from the side of the prosecution adds valuable insight to a defense strategy. A great criminal prosecutor can make an even better criminal defense attorney.Make sure to ask your potential lawyer about their experience as a prosecutor; if they haven’t had much, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Do You Believe in My Defense?
This is a tricky question. After you give an attorney all the details of your charges and the situation that caused you to commit a crime—you should at least explore their thoughts on the crime you committed and your chances of being absolved or convicted. Attorneys have funny ways of answering this question. Just be wary if the attorney goes overboard and seems too eager. Look for a thoughtful reason why the lawyer thinks you have a chance. And if they struggle to answer this question, it means they’re likely to struggle to find an avenue of defense for you in front of a judge.
Don’t Forget to ask About Cost
Although it really goes without saying, you should always ask lawyers about their rates and any hidden fees. However, as you consult with your potential defense attorney, you should be prepared to ask some other basic questions after describing the details of your charges.
Although time is of the essence in a lot of cases, it’s important that defendants know: immediately hiring just any criminal attorney doesn’t guarantee a solution to an arrest or a promising defense. It’s the caliber of the lawyer you hire and your relationship with that attorney that really gives you a fighting chance in court.
Much like myself, many lawyers offer that “free consultation,” which is great––but you better make sure you make good use of that time.
Prepare some questions to ask your potential defense attorney that are specific to your situation. And make sure you work in the questions mentioned above to give you the best chances at finding a great defense lawyer.
A Final Note: Remember that the attorney-client relationship is an incredibly important facet of your defense: It’s important you feel comfortable with your criminal attorney. Take your time, ask some questions and choose wisely.
Attorney Matt Thompson practices criminal defense in Central Florida, serving clients in the areas of DeLand, Daytona Beach, Lake Mary, and beyond. Learn more About Matt, or Contact the office of Thompson Law for more information.