How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Jul 24

Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer

by Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’re been charged with a criminal offense, one of the most important steps you will take in defending yourself is hiring a lawyer. With such high stakes, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing an attorney. Here are some things to consider as you look for the right lawyer to defend you in your criminal case.

Act Now

Even if your court date isn’t for several months, you need to start looking for a lawyer immediately. Finding a lawyer you like can take time, and he or she may recommend that you take certain actions before your court date. For example, if you are charged with a drug or alcohol-related crime, your attorney might recommend participating in drug or alcohol counseling before you go to court.

Location

Lawyers are licensed to represent clients by state, so it’s imperative that you have a lawyer who is licensed in the state where you’ve been charged with a crime.

Other than that legal requirement, it’s good to have a lawyer who is familiar with the specific court you’ll be tried in, which means that you’ll want a lawyer who practices in the same city or county in which you’re charged.

Lawyers get to know prosecutors, police officers and judges over the course of their practice in a particular court. Hiring a lawyer who knows the judges you’ll likely encounter means you’ll have information you wouldn’t otherwise have, such as if a particular judge should be avoided for DUI cases, for example.

Specialty

Criminal defense is a very broad subsection of legal practice. There is a huge difference between defending against DUI accusations and defending a client accused of homicide. Most criminal defense lawyers will concentrate on a couple types of criminal cases. If you’re accused of homicide, you should look for a lawyer who has experience defending clients who are accused of similar crimes.

Free Consultation

Once you’ve found a couple lawyers who have the correct specialty and are in the right area, you’ll want to see if they offer free consultations. It’s a good idea to meet your lawyer in person before you hire him or her. You’ll be able to ask basic questions, both about your legal case and about how the defense process works, during this consultation.

It’s important that you feel comfortable with your attorney, and that you feel like your attorney understands you. This will help you fully comply with his or her legal advice and will help keep communication between you smooth. That can have a real effect on the outcome of your case. It’s hard to judge if you will like a particular attorney without an in-person meeting.

If you’re thinking about hiring a large law firm to represent you, make sure that the lawyer you meet during the consultation is the same lawyer who will attend court with you.

Cost Structure

Lawyers will either charge you an hourly rate, for the number of hours actually spent on the case, or a flat fee. Make sure that you know what your prospective lawyer’s fee structure is, and ask questions about what is and is not included. You should also ask what other fees you should expect, such as court filing fees. This helps you budget and can prevent misunderstandings down the road.

The bottom line is that choosing an attorney is an important first step in your criminal defense. You need an attorney who practices in your area, is experienced in the type of crime you’ve been charged with and who you like.

Have you or someone you know been accused of a crime? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

The expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC vigorously defend the rights of individuals facing a multitude of charges in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!



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