Selecting A Criminal Defense Lawyer-How To Avoid Blunders

by Leo Preston on April 11, 2013

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(Guest post on choosing a criminal lawyer in the United States) Selecting a criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between freedom and jail time, or worse. It is not a task to be taken lightly, and it demands deep and thorough research to find the right criminal defense lawyer to defend you for the crime with which you are charged.

One of the first things to consider when choosing a criminal defense lawyer is the state in which you were charged for the crime. Laws vary from state to state, so it is very important to find a lawyer who defends clients charged with the same crime as you, in the same state where you will be tried.  There is no substitute for a lawyer’s actual experience defending the same crime in the same state in which you will be tried.

You can begin your search for a criminal defense lawyer online.  The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional organization and is the primary voice of the rule of law in the US and around the world. ABA recommendations can be trusted. The ABA recommends their link to locate a lawyer in your state.  On this site you can also find a wealth of information about the legal system, hiring and paying a lawyer, checking a lawyers certification and history and much more.

The site will show various ABA certified agencies that you can contact through the local ABA offices or their affiliates to find a specialist in criminal law. These organizations generally bear the “Meets ABA Standards for Lawyer Referral” logo indicating these lawyers are in good standing and are qualified according to ABA standards.

Using the ABA or seeking referrals from your local law school or non-profit legal center will eliminate most blunders you may make trying to find a criminal defense lawyer on your own, through a phonebook, through friend or family referrals, or through other online or prepaid legal plans.

Some pre-paid legal plans can have fine lawyers but you may not end up with a local lawyer to handle your case and that can be a big blunder. If the lawyer is not practicing in the state where you were charged, they may not be up to date on all of the ins and outs of the laws of that state, and that can seriously impact your case.

Some of the ways you can protect yourself from making errors in hiring a competent criminal legal defense lawyer are to avoid hiring relatives or family friends. Lawyers in your family, or lawyers that are friends, may be well intentioned, and try to help you because of finances, or out of a sense of duty. Unfortunately, they may not be qualified, and if things don’t go well it can ruin important relationships.

Steer clear of any lawyer that offers a guaranteed outcome for your trial. No competent lawyer will promise a specific result. Such claims are usually a tip-off that the lawyer is less than honest or has a shady history.

Do not hire a lawyer on price. Criminal law in particular, is highly specialized and costly. If cost is a concern, consider pro-bono representation through your legal aid society, or through your local law school. Make sure whoever will represent you has experience in criminal law and specifically in the area of your criminal charge. Many law schools have clinics in place where students practice at reduced rates. Many of them are excellent though they may lack experience. Depending on your criminal charge this can be a good option but beware of using inexperienced lawyers or students. It is a risk.

Always do a thorough background check of the lawyer you select using the ABA, the better business bureau, other professional legal organizations, local law schools and the Chamber of Commerce.  Do not be afraid to ask lawyers you are considering to provide you with case outcomes for other clients charged with the same criminal offense you will be facing. Also ask for client references-references you can speak with in person. Ask them about their experience with the lawyer-how prepared were they? Was the lawyer on top of all state rules and laws relevant to the charge?  What did it cost? How much time did the lawyer take to prep the defendant? These are all important questions so that you can make an informed choice and narrow down your selections to the one lawyer who will represent you in court.

With proper research and education on the legal system, your charge, and state laws (see the ABA website) you can avoid most blunders and hire a very competent criminal defense lawyer to defend you.

Leo Preston

Leo Preston

The author worked in a Law School for several years and started writing articles targeted to educating people about how to hire the right lawyer for their situation. She enjoys sharing her knowledge through writing and group speaking.
Leo Preston
Leo Preston
Leo Preston

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  • Attorney Matthews Bark Orlando

    That’s a great post you talked about…

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