You are in a situation in which you never thought you would find yourself – you have been arrested for a crime, accused of a crime or approached for questioning by law enforcement. Even a presumably minor offense could potentially throw your life into instant turmoil. Depending on the crime, you could be facing a multitude of consequences ranging from fines to incarceration. Additionally, if convicted, your current predicament could haunt you for the rest of your life.
Considerations When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You may be thinking that you need a lawyer. However, never having been in this situation before, you might not even know where to begin. The criminal justice system can be intimidating for those who are unfamiliar with it. It is important to have an experienced criminal attorney on your side.
There are some things you should consider as you make your decision to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Research the attorney. There are many lawyers in Tallahassee, Leon County, and all of Florida, for that matter. Some are better than others. Some will be a better fit for you and your individual needs.
Asking the following questions can help you as determine which attorney to hire.
- How long has the attorney been practicing in his current location? Attorneys who move from city to city or who change office locations within the same city frequently should be questioned about this instability. Are you hiring a lawyer who has spent years building relationships with the prosecutors and judges in the same jurisdiction? Or has your lawyer left his prior goodwill behind and recently moved to the location in which you will need him?
- Does this lawyer’s level of expertise align to the crime you have been charged with?
- Has this lawyer had experience in court as a trial lawyer? If the case goes to trial you need someone with experience and skill in trial proceedings.
- Will the lawyer actually be handling the legal work in the case? Is there an associate attorney (or worse – law clerk/intern) hanging around at your consultation? Are you going to be paying for a “big name” lawyer who will allow his associates/staff to handle your case while he pursues out-of-office activities?
- What information do you find from independent references (available on websites such as AVVO or Martindale)?
- Is the lawyer in good standing in the state of Florida? Visit the state bar association website to find this information. www.floridabar.org Is the lawyer certified in any area related to criminal law? Is the lawyer simply a member in good standing with the Bar or has he been appointed to any Bar Committees by the Board of Governors?
- Can you obtain a copy of the lawyer’s fee agreement and have it explained to you while making your decision? Except for the most minor situations – all fee agreements with the lawyer should be reduced to writing.
- Is the lawyer a member of any relevant associations such as The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and/or the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers? Is the lawyer simply a member of the organizations or does he hold leadership position(s) within those organizations?
Your objective is to find a lawyer you are comfortable with and can trust with your confidential information. Your objective is also to find a lawyer which the judge and prosecutor are comfortable with and can trust as well.
The criminal defense lawyer you hire should explain and help you understand:
- the various aspects of the charges that have been filed against you,
- what the various defenses may be,
- any expectations in the plea agreement process based on practice experience,
- what to expect during the preparation for a possible trial.
Trusted Leon County Criminal Defense Attorney
Luke Newman has been a practicing criminal defense attorney since 2004. As a committed, skilled, and experienced lawyer in this area of law you can put your confidence and trust in him. Do your homework by asking the above questions as a guideline and then give Mr. Newman a call at 850-224-4444.