The first thing you should do after being contacted by the police about a crime is find a criminal lawyer. However, traversing legal jargon to find the best lawyer for your needs can be tricky. It is best to sit down with some potential lawyers for a preliminary consultation before settling on your representation. Here are some questions to ask these attorneys to ensure you find the best lawyer for your case.
How much do you charge your clients?
How lawyers charge their clients can become very complicated, so it's important to try and grasp the potential cost before committing to an attorney. The two main ways lawyers will bill you is fixed or by the hour. Hourly billing is ideal for cases that should be quick and easy, but the downside is you never truly know how long a case will take. Fixed or case billing is beneficial because you go into your case knowing how much you will owe the attorney at the end. Lawyers may also ask for their clients to pay for incurred fees during a case—such as printing, appeals, or subpoena costs—as well as a retainer to cover these initial fees.
If you can't afford a defense attorney, then a public defender can be appointed to you by the state.
What sort of crime do you focus on?
You shouldn't hire a criminal defense attorney who specializes in robberies to assist you with a DUI case. Different crimes require different areas of expertise. Lawyers will generally specialize in a few similar areas of law so they can offer their clients the best defense possible. There are lawyers who specialize in drug and alcohol related crimes while others will focus on more serious issues such as robbery, assault, or homicide. Similarly, there are also state and federal defense attorneys, so you need to know if the crime you're being charged with is a state or federal offense.
What are some outcomes you've received on similar cases?
It's good to know an attorney's track record before you hire them, but asking them about what they hope to gain from your case can tell you whether or not you have the same hopes and priorities. Some lawyers may be predisposed to settle, while others tend to take cases to court. Figure out what your ideal outcome would be and search for a lawyer who has frequently delivered that.
How much time do you personally spend working on a case?
Make sure to ask the lawyer how much time they spend doing their own work on a case and how much their aids and interns spend. Though nearly all attorneys have teams of people tasked to help them with any given case, you also want to make sure that the person you are paying for is actually doing the leg work as well. There's no use spending a large sum on a well-known lawyer if they are only going to do 10% of the work.