Facing a felony or misdemeanor charge can be one of the most stressful moments of your life. You shouldn’t have to face it alone. But you don’t want to hire just any attorney to defend you; you need the very best criminal defense attorney that you can get.
1. Should you hire a criminal defense lawyer?
Yes. You want a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in a criminal trial. You need someone who concentrates his practice in handling felonies and misdemeanorslike the one you’ve been accused of. Someone who’s familiar with the laws, the prosecutors, and the judges will know more about the most effective way to defend you and your rights.
Sure, it’s better to have a public defender instead of no attorney at all, but remember that the overwhelming number of cases a public defender handles is substantial. It’s easy to find articles about their “impossible caseloads,” and there are plenty of horror stories about defendants sitting in jail for months before even getting to see a lawyer.
Money spent now, or through a payment plan, can save you a lot of money in the long run. Think of a criminal trial as your Super Bowl: you have one chance to preserve your name and your freedom. Do you really want the cheapest quarterback off the waiver wire, or do you want to have the best quarterback available to spearhead the attack on the charges against you?
Here’s a guide for choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your circumstances if you or your loved one is accused of a crime in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, or Monroe County, Florida. Get a free consultation and ask yourself four more questions when you meet the lawyer.
2. Does your criminal defense attorney have the right attitude?
Look for an attorney who believes that almost any case can be won. Sometimes that means he’ll look to get your charges dismissed outright. But depending on the circumstances of your case and arrest, it can mean he’s creative enough to see chances to get your charges significantly reduced, which can be a great win for you.
Does he make sure you know about, not only the direct consequences of a conviction, but also of collateral and indirect consequences? You want a lawyer who will, for instance, look for ways to help you keep your license or your job. He’ll have ideas for how you can get your record sealed or expunged down the road so that the arrest may not have as much detrimental effect during job searches years down the road.
3. Is your Miami criminal defense lawyer thorough?
Here’s where the difference between an overworked public defender and your hand-picked criminal defense lawyer can really shine. You want your criminal defense lawyer to leave no stone left unturned in defending your rights.
When you talk about case strategy with him, he’s ready to attack the charge from several angles. Was the arrest improper or was the search warrant defective? Does the state have chain of custody problems with the evidence it wants to use against you? Have witnesses given inconsistent statements, and is the prosecutor relying on an informant who will say anything to get out of trouble himself? Is there evidence completely contradicting the prosecution’s theory of what happened?
A thorough, effective criminal defense lawyer knows how to protect your constitutional rights by making it as difficult as possible for the State to prove its case against you.
4. How experienced is the criminal defense lawyer?
There are many fine, young attorneys, but do you want to be the first client he’s defended from felony charges?
It’s better to look for an attorney with experience handling criminal matters just like the offense you’ve been accused of committing. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know how to defend individuals accused of felonies, misdemeanors, DUI, domestic violence, traffic offenses, and similar matters.
Depending on how long your attorney has been practicing, he may be familiar with the prosecutor or judge involved in your case, which may give him helpful perspective into the best strategy and tactics you should use to defend your case.
When an attorney has represented thousands of defendants because he’s been practicing criminal defense since Ronald Reagan was president, it is much more likely that he’ll have the knowledge and insight to help you mount the best possible defense.
5. Can I afford this lawyer?
We’ve already talked about how money spent now can save you in the long run. Even so, when money is tight, there are a few extra questions to ask during your consultation.