If you or your loved one have been charged with a criminal offence, it can be a daunting and scary experience. You may worry about how to deal with complications and variables that come with all criminal cases and may feel overwhelmed by it all. This is where the services of an experienced lawyer come in.
But hiring any old lawyer is not a good idea. There are many things you must consider before you hire one. This article will provide you with all the necessary information you need to consider before hiring a lawyer to represent you in court.
What is a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
A criminal defence lawyer, also known as a criminal advocate, is a type of lawyer who specializes in criminal law. Primarily, a criminal defence lawyer focuses on protecting their client’s rights under what has been described in the Canadian Constitution.
Criminal defence lawyers are hired by defendants who have been charged with committing a crime. These lawyers guide their clients through every stage of a criminal case. Plus, the lawyer will try to prove their client’s innocence or assist in getting their sentences reduced, or an alternative sentence is put forth.
How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer?
You must take it incredibly seriously if you are charged with a crime. Convictions can lead to jail time and hefty fines. Therefore, you must deal with this with utmost care. This is where a criminal defence lawyer can help you.
To start finding a lawyer, you first need to search the internet for criminal defence lawyers in your area. You will see various links leading to lawyers in your area in your search. For example, you will see law firms, individual lawyers, bar associations, legal aid, and pro bono.
If you have difficulty financing a lawyer, you may opt for a pro bono lawyer or a legal aid service to represent you. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, the province will pay for one to represent you, but this might not be the best way forward.
Note that this is just one of the ways, but it doesn’t guarantee you find the best. There’s more to know.
What Should I Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
You must find the right lawyer for your case. Just choosing the first lawyer, you come across may not be the ideal way to go as they might not be best suited to deal with the circumstances of your case.
Before you decide on a lawyer, there are a few things you must consider:
Your Lawyer Should be Prompt
In a criminal case, time is a very important resource. The more time you lose, the more chance you lose a case. You will require a lawyer who will get to work on your case immediately.
When you call a lawyer, they should be responsive and arrange a meeting as soon as possible, preferably within a day or two. If they are quick to answer a call or get back to you on an email, they’re probably equally committed to your defence.
Find Out Where They Studied Law
One of the first pieces of information that you should gather about your lawyer is where they went to study law. You should choose a lawyer who attended a recognized school as they are more likely to be appropriately qualified to handle your case.
However, you should not disregard lawyers who went to smaller schools as sometimes they may have more experience or other credentials that make them better suited for you.
Your Lawyer Should Specialize in Criminal Law
Even though your lawyer doesn’t have to practice criminal law exclusively, the right lawyer should have prior experience in criminal law. If you don’t see any mentions of criminal law on their website, then this lawyer may not be the right choice for you.
You need a lawyer who is up to date on the best practices of criminal law.
Choose a Lawyer Who Has Experience in Local Courts
Along with finding the most qualified lawyer, you must also prioritize lawyers who have experience working in local courts. Local connections can sometimes go a long way, especially in tough cases.
This is because most courts and judges have their way of doing things, and if your lawyer knows these ins and outs, they help create a winning strategy for you.
Ask Them About Their Experience with Cases Like Yours
A good way to gauge a lawyer’s ability is to ask if they have previously worked on a case that is similar to yours. This will give you an idea of how they will handle your case. If the lawyer has no prior experience dealing with cases such as yours, it is probably a good idea to look for someone who does.
Check with Good Sources
The internet can provide you with tons of information about a lawyer. You can check the local bar association to see if the lawyer had been formally disciplined.
You can also check a website such as Google+ or Facebook to see if any reviews are available. These websites usually don’t allow the removal of negative reviews, which means you can get an honest view of other clients’ experiences with him.
Ask Someone to Refer
It is always good to ask your friends and family if they know any good lawyers. They might have some insight into how they operate and inform you how the lawyer can help if he takes your case.
Also, if you use a lawyer for business or other purposes, you can ask them for a recommendation.
The Right Lawyer Knows the Basics
An experienced lawyer would know the basics about most crimes and their likely penalties without looking them up. They should also be able to answer any questions you might have to a certain degree.
Also, ask the right questions to determine if nuances in your case need to be considered.
Find Out How Often They Take Cases to Trial
When looking for a lawyer, you must research how often the lawyer takes a case to court. This will give you an idea of how willing the lawyer is to fight for you. Seeing that they tend to resolve most cases outside the court via plea bargains might indicate that they do not have to go to trial.
If you find a lawyer who does take cases to trial, you need to see how often they secure a not guilty verdict. You must choose a lawyer with a high rate of success.
Your Lawyer Must Be Confident
Courtroom experience and confidence are extremely important in a criminal case. These trials are intricate and often move very quickly, and your lawyer must be aware of making objections and decisions that could very much impact the case’s outcome. Hence, you should ensure your lawyer is confident and comfortable in a court proceeding.
Also, it is important to see how a lawyer presents himself. If they are well dressed and polite, they will be the same in court. Since they will speak on your behalf, you have to like how they present themselves.
They Follow Your Instructions
Ultimately, your criminal charge is your own to deal with. Even though your attorney will deal with the specifics, the big decisions should be up to you. You should decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial, and your lawyer should be there to advise you as to the best course of action.
Your lawyer should make an effort to understand your priorities and goals and consider their defence strategy.
What are the Advantages of a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Finding a good lawyer might not be easy, but it is worth the effort. An experienced lawyer can make a difference in your case.
Here are a few of the many ways a professional can help you fight criminal charges:
- Provide you with knowledgeable advice and guidance
- Give you straightforward answers to all questions
- Fill up and file all necessary legal documents on your behalf
- Search for all evidence that may help your case
- Stand up for your rights
- Speak with the prosecutor on your behalf
- Work hard to get you released in the event you are in police custody
- Conduct an independent investigation of your case
- Consult with experts regarding the subtleties
- Negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor
- Present evidence and argue on your behalf at a trial
When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a lawyer immediately. An experienced lawyer can determine the best course of action and whether any viable defences can be used to create a winning defence strategy.
Since time is of the essence in a criminal defence case, you must act quickly when hiring a lawyer. This will give them ample time to strategize your defence, gather necessary evidence, submit all the required paperwork, and give you the correct guidance you need to avoid penalties successfully.
Hiring an experienced lawyer is crucial for getting a successful result from a criminal defence case. But not all lawyers are suited for you. You must do your due diligence in determining whether the lawyer you are considering has the right traits that will work for you and lead to a winning decision.
Hopefully, this article successfully provided you with the right information regarding the criteria you need to consider before deciding on a lawyer. Remember that choosing a lawyer is just the first step, and it is vital that you fully cooperate with them to get a positive outcome.
Where is the best place to find a lawyer?
Call or visit the local bar association's website, use a referral service, or ask for a legal aid or non-profit that provides legal contact information for free.
What's the difference between an attorney and a lawyer?
A lawyer has gone to law school and has passed the bar exam, and an attorney is someone who acts on behalf of someone else. Attorney is used as shorthand for attorney at law.
How much do criminal lawyers make per month?
Criminal Defense lawyers make anywhere between $100,000 and $55,000 a year. Some lawyers who have earned a reputation sometimes make over $500,000 a year.
How do Defense lawyers get paid?
Criminal defence lawyers charge hourly ($100-$150+ An hour) or by an agreed-upon amount with their client. It varies on the cases, areas and lawyers' expertise.