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How to Find a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you would like to work with a lawyer as soon as possible. This person should have expertise in criminal defense as it is a highly specialized field of law.

Here are guidelines you can use for initially screening lawyers before narrowing your list to about two or three candidates:

> Check for biographical information, including everything you find on the attorneys’ websites. Do they have the necessary expertise for your particular case?
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> Do an online search for information on the lawyers you’re considering. Have they published any articles, e-books or FAQ’s that somehow increase your level of comfort? Make it a point to read online reviews to know what their past clients are saying about them. This can be one revealing part.
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> Get in touch with your state bar association or log on to their website to know if the lawyers are in good standing. Also find out if they are affiliated with associations related to your needs, such as the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

> Determine any special needs you may have. For example, would you need an attorney who speaks another language aside from English?

If a lawyer cannot see you on short notice, don’t discount him right away. Good lawyers are usually busy, so they may have a hard time freeing some time up for a potential client.

Criminal defense lawyers almost always charge a fixed, upfront fee or hourly. Your state’s professional conduct rules may bar your lawyer from being hired on a contingent fee arrangement with an individual charged with a crime. Because rates can be highly competitive, you would first like to shop around.

Hire a lawyer who has substantial experience, especially in the particular case that you are facing, it’s a traffic violation, a drug crime, a sex offense, and so on and so forth. If your charge is rape, don’t get a lawyer who’s been mostly busy defending traffic violators.

Criminal cases often involve plea agreements entered with the district attorney’s office. This means the attorney should have a good working relationship with the prosecuting lawyer, or is at least a respected authority in legal circles. In other words, you have to find a lawyer who is always visible in the jurisdiction where you case is filed.

Lastly, just before you choose a certain lawyer:

> Seek references from people who can provide feedback regarding the abilities of your prospect, but first make sure they are trustworthy;

> Ask for your own copy of the retainer agreement and have it discussed thoroughly to you; and

> Make sure you have good rapport with the attorney you hire if you want to have a strong case that you can build as a team.