How to Choose a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being charged with a crime can be one of the most difficult and stressful situations that a person will face during their lifetime. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, you could be facing loss of your freedom, significant financial penalties, lifetime consequences like being branded a felon or a sex offender, along with embarrassment and humiliation.
When clients come to us in this situation, they are often feeling scared and stressed, and aren’t sure how to proceed in choosing who to defend them. They often aren’t sure what questions to ask, what qualities to look for in a criminal defense attorney, and what matters when choosing someone to be by their side during this difficult process.
When choosing a criminal defense attorney, there are three big considerations that you should be thinking about: (1) knowledge and experience, (2) cost, and (3) comfort level between yourself and the attorney.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
In choosing a criminal defense attorney, you are going to need to consider their knowledge and experience concerning criminal defense. There are plenty of lawyers out there with 30 years of experience in practicing law who know nothing about properly defending a criminal case.
Choosing a general practitioner or your divorce attorney to handle your criminal case is recipe for disaster. The problem is often that these lawyers simply don’t know what they don’t know. They haven’t stayed current on the law, and will most likely be looking to plead you out at the first opportunity.
You want to look for an attorney who focuses their practice on criminal defense. For example, at Miel & Carr, PLC, our attorneys are criminal defense trial attorneys who live and breathe criminal cases each and every day. Our attorneys have been through all of the premier training programs concerning criminal defense, including the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Trial College, and the National Criminal Defense College.
Finally, when looking at experience, the most important experience to look at is the attorney’s ability to try your case to a jury. Look at the attorney’s history in actually trying cases. If the attorney you are considering rarely gets to trial, that should be a concern. Attorneys who are neither prepared nor willing to fight for their clients all the way to trial are likely to attempt to pressure you into accepting a bad plea offer, and don’t gain the fear and respect of prosecutors necessary to be truly successful in defending your case.
When a client comes into our office, frequently their number one concern is “how much is this going to cost?” And of course, cost is a valid consideration, from many perspectives.
When choosing an attorney, their fee is a significant consideration in doing so. In evaluating the fee, you need to think about how much time you believe it will be necessary for the attorney to devote to your case. If you are facing a serious charge with a serious penalty, you should expect that your attorney will spend dozens, and in some cases, hundreds of hours investigating, defending, and preparing to try your case.
There are a number of attorneys out there who are desperate for money who will take on a serious criminal case, such as a life-offense criminal sexual conduct case, for $2,500 or $5,000. This means that the attorney is prepared to spend somewhere between 5 and 15 hours on your case – they literally cannot afford to spend more time than that, because they have to move on to the next client who they can get $2,500 from and keep their law practice afloat.
At Miel & Carr, we are frequently retained by clients who have made the mistake of hiring one of these attorneys, and figure out once they get into the case that the attorney just isn’t able to do the work required to properly defend the case.
The bottom line is that the cost to properly defend a criminal case can be extremely expensive and can seem overwhelming. When you consider how to handle the issue of cost, you should consider what your needs are, and of course, what penalties you are facing. Make sure that whatever fee you end up paying your attorney, that it permits them to spend enough time on your case to be successful in defending you.
When we initially meet with a potential client, the interview is a two-way street. It is important that an attorney and client are able to become a team over the course of the case, and that means that they are going to need to develop trust and comfort with one another. If the client doesn’t trust the attorney, and vice versa, it can spell disaster for the case.
At Miel & Carr, we are committed to the clients that we decide to take on, and give a great deal of ourselves in order to successfully defend them. When we are deciding whether to take on a case, we have to look at whether or not the client will be a good fit with our office, or whether we should direct them to someone else who might be a better fit, for whatever reason. We only want to take on representing someone if we can give every effort to get them the best possible result.
When choosing your own criminal defense attorney, you also need to look at whether you feel good about having this person represent you. Ask yourself if the attorney makes you feel comfortable and if they are going to be a good fit for you.
If you would like to see if one of the attorneys at Blanchard Law is the right attorney for you, please contact us at (616) 773-2945.