When looking to hire a criminal defense lawyer, the matter is usually urgent. However, even if time is of the essence, it is important to take the time to make your decision carefully. Your choice of attorney can significantly affect how your criminal unfolds.

When looking for a lawyer, getting a good match between the lawyer’s skills and personality and the type of criminal matter can make a defendant feel more secure and comfortable in a stressful situation. When facing a criminal matter, it can be distressing to ask for referrals from friends and family, but it can be a good place to start. County bar associations are another good source for referrals.

Once a person has several referrals, it is time to sort through them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when speaking to an attorney. There are many issues to consider when vetting a lawyer for possible representation. Here are some of the more important issues to think about.

Trustworthiness

Trust is one the single most important considerations in hiring a criminal defense lawyer. In a criminal case, a person is placing their freedom – sometimes their life – into the hands of an attorney. Trust is imperative. Together with their client, a lawyer crafts a defense and makes many decisions that affect that client for years to come.

Proper Training and Experience

Lawyers are licensed in a particular state. Some are licensed in more than one state. In order to represent a client in a criminal matter, the lawyer must be licensed in the state in which the criminal matter is pending. If the matter is a federal crime, the attorney must be licensed to practice before the federal bench.

Even within the criminal law umbrella, many attorneys specialize. Some attorneys only take cases involving domestic violence or sex offenses. Other lawyers may specialize in white-collar crimes. Any specialization should match the need.

Often a criminal defense attorney will carry a specialization in that area from the bar association within that state. This specialization requires a certain degree of training and experience.

Their Reputation

Is the lawyer a book worm or a shark? What do past clients say about their representation? Were they satisfied? What associations does the attorney belong to? These are all questions for consideration when looking at the issue of reputation.

Reputation is as much about a personality fit with the client as it is about a name. Some criminal defense lawyers get a lot of press, but many wonderful lawyers do not. Pay attention to how that lawyer has handled other similar cases. If a criminal defense lawyer was responsive to their client, a diligent worker, and the client was satisfied, it is likely that the lawyer will act similarly in your case.

Familiarity (Or Lack Thereof) With Court System and Judges

Every state, including Kentucky, has its own criminal laws on the books. Experience with the criminal law of the state in which a matter is pending is crucial to effective representation. Likewise, every county has its own rules and procedures. These can vary quite a bit from one county to another. Deadlines, the handling of motions, and the filing of court documents may vary quite a bit from one county to another.

A potential client may also want to consider a lawyer’s knowledge of the courtrooms and judges in the jurisdiction their matter will be heard. A lawyer who has appeared many times within a courtroom in that area, and who knows how a particular judge handles his or her courtroom can be invaluable.

Are They a Responsive Communicator?

Criminal defense lawyers are busy people. Their duties involve court appearances, client meetings, legal research, preparing briefs, and telephone calls with clients and prosecutors. Responsive communication is important in making a client feel secure. 

Even if your attorney has a great reputation, if he or she doesn’t communicate effectively with a client, it can make the whole process much more difficult. A good criminal defense lawyer is an effective communicator with their client, with opposing counsel, and with a judge and jury.

Cost

The cost of criminal defense varies widely. When looking for private representation as opposed to an appointed Public Defender, a client should ensure that they understand the lawyer’s fee structure. Many factors can contribute to an attorney’s fee structure. It is important that a client understand what those factors are and feels comfortable with the fee structure to avoid problems later in the representation.

While no criminal defense attorney can guarantee a win, taking all of these factors into consideration will better a client’s working relationship with their criminal defense lawyer. That often makes for a more successful outcome. It will also enable a person to feel more comfortable and secure throughout the process. Bring your questions and concerns to an experienced, trusted criminal defense lawyer today to get the help you need.