If you have picked up a criminal charge, you should consider the importance of hiring a criminal attorney to represent you. Of course, according to the law, you are entitled to free representation by a qualified lawyer, but you really do get what you pay for. A court-appointed attorney or public defender is usually so walled in with cases that he has barely been able to skim over a defendant’s file before the arraignment. The public defender is almost always at a disadvantage because of his case volume.
When you look for a criminal lawyer to defend you, your first resource should be your friends. One of them may know of a good criminal attorney. If a friend has referred you to a particular lawyer, you may even get a break on the retainer fee. Recommendations are almost always the best way to find a good criminal attorney. Next, try calling the Bar Association for the county that you live in. They will have a list of what are called “panel” attorneys who have been pre-screened and found to be competent in the areas of law they practice. Some panel attorneys may not have decades of experience, but you should be able to find a good criminal attorney to represent you.
You can also look online, in the phone book and in the newspaper for a criminal attorney. Beware, though, of the attorney who makes wild promises like guaranteeing to get your case dropped. No attorney can promise that. When looking at an attorney’s qualifications, check to see if he or she has experience on both sides of the law. Criminal defense attorneys who have had experience in the Prosecutor’s Office are usually much better acquainted with the tactics of prosecuting attorneys. This experience should serve you well.
When you meet with your attorney for the first time, bring a copy of the paperwork that you received when you were arrested. When you call to make your first appointment, be sure to let the attorney know of any upcoming hearing dates. You want him or her to have enough time to prepare for your first court appearance. Though you are going to have to pay for a criminal attorney’s services, it will be worth every penny that you put down. Most criminal attorneys charge an initial retainer fee and bill against it throughout your case. They all take credit cards.