If you haven’t had much experience with the legal system before (and sometimes even if you have), being charged with a crime is a traumatic experience.
Whether you’ve been booked for driving under the influence or arrested for fraud, it can be hard to know how to respond. Most people’s knowledge of how the courts work is vague at best, gleaned as much from police procedurals and legal dramas that offer inaccurate portrayals of the criminal justice system as from a high school law or civics class.
This is one of the reasons it is so important to have a criminal defense lawyer in your corner from the beginning. A criminal defense lawyer can help you respond to the police in a way that won’t provide testimony that can hurt your case later on, and will lay out the different options that are open to you and the pros and cons involved in each.
But what should you look for in a lawyer, and what qualities are most important? Here are four things that separate a merely competent lawyer from an outstanding one.
Going to court can be a stressful experience, and the last thing you want is to have a lawyer who contributes to that stress by not returning your phone calls.
It’s important to remember that your lawyer is working for you — you have a right to expect them to keep you up-to-date about your case, and respond to the questions and concerns you have in a timely way.
As with any other profession, a lawyer with many years of successful litigation under his or her belt will have picked up a lot of practical knowledge along the way, which is why you want to prioritize hiring experienced criminal lawyers who have a proven track record of success in the courtroom, and who have the knowledge and expertise necessary to help you win your case.
The law is a complex thing, and as with any other profession, lawyers tend to specialize. This is true both in a broad sense — some lawyers mostly work for the state, others specialize in business dealings, still others choose to defend private citizens — but it is also true within criminal defense law.
Finding a lawyer who has experience fighting particular charges like domestic assault, theft, and impaired driving is just as important as hiring a lawyer who has a track record of winning.
Even at the best of times, going to court is tough, and preparing to defend yourself in court is an onerous and draining process — especially if you are facing a serious charge that could result in a prison sentence. The best lawyers don’t just marshal arguments, they also show empathy for their clients and provide emotional support through the process.
Finding the right criminal lawyer can make a huge difference, not only in the success of the case, but in the amount of emotional turmoil it takes to achieve it.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer who is a professional, experienced, empathetic specialist is one of the most important ways of ensuring that the process of securing a desirable outcome is as smooth as possible.