If you are in a position to require the services of a criminal defense lawyer, it is more important than normal that you find one with whom you can speak frankly and be honest. Hiring the first criminal defense attorney you encounter can lead to serious consequences. There are questions that it is in your best interest to ask before hiring an attorney.
Have you been handling small claims court criminal defense cases for long? While a lack of experience should not necessarily be enough to disqualify a skilled attorney, it is generally better to look for someone who has been through cases similar to yours before. This is especially true if the crime you are charged with carries jail time. Sometimes, attorneys will begin their legal careers as prosecutors, and then switch sides after a period of learning and acquiring a proven track record as a litigator.
How many trials have you handled? What about jury trials? An attorney may know what is considered a criminal charge and have an experience in that, but lack the expertise to put it into practice in an actual trial. Having some hands-on experience can make a difference. It is also a good idea to ask about specifically jury trials – in Texas, those charged with petty offenses are not entitled to a jury trial. However, the dynamic of a bench trial is very different than that of a jury trial, and a good attorney will have experienced both.
How much of your practice is criminal defense work? This also ties back in with experience. Someone who has merely studied criminal law, as opposed to someone who has dealt with it on a day to day basis, is going to approach a case very differently than someone who makes it part of their life.
Are you familiar with the offense I have been charged with? Even a practiced criminal lawyer can stand to learn something new – but it is generally better if your case is not being used as someone’s classroom. For example, someone who specializes in drug offenses may have difficulty handling an attempted robbery claim.
Will you be handling my case, or will you have an ‘associate’ take over? While law firms are routinely busy to the point where associates or paralegals may handle much of the paperwork, you still have the right to insist that you have an attorney beside you in court who knows the details of your case, and who has been well informed from the beginning. Unethical firms are prone to bait and switch, luring in clients with promises of a well-known or experienced attorney handling their case, and then farming it out to an associate.
Will you communicate with me about my case and its progress? There is an unfortunate trend among many professionals to not keep in contact with a client, or to only update them infrequently, regardless of what news has come to pass in their case. An ethical attorney will provide prompt updates when something happens, rather than leave you hanging for weeks or months.
What are your fees? Do you offer payment plans? While an extremely cheap attorney is generally a proverbial red flag – usually, one gets what one pays for – it is important to ensure that your attorney will accommodate you if you are low on funds. While criminal defense attorneys may not take cases on a contingency basis, they will usually work with you to reach an agreement that is favorable to you both regarding payment terms.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Collin County or its environs, you need a dedicated Allen criminal defense attorney who will fight for your interests. The Collin County DWI lawyers at Rosenthal & Wadas understand that right now, confusion is likely the overwhelming emotion for you and yours. We will help you cut through the fog and work hard for the best possible outcome. Contact our Collin County DWI lawyers today at 877-538-8640 (toll free) to set up an appointment.