As the cold handcuffs grip your wrists, you break out into a sweat. You’re naturally worried about not only your reputation but also your future. You realize you need legal help ASAP, but what exactly should you ask a lawyer?
Being arrested for any crime, whether small or large, can have a negative impact on your life both immediately and in the long term. For instance, you may end up losing your current job and even losing your freedom for months or years if you’re convicted of the crime.
Hiring a good criminal defense lawyer could be the deciding factor in your trial. Here’s a rundown of seven questions to ask a lawyer if you’re facing criminal charges. Let’s get started.
1. Ask a Lawyer, “How Much Experience Do You Have?”
This is one of the most important questions you can ask a lawyer. After all, your future is at stake.
Of course, every lawyer has to begin somewhere. It’s just that you don’t want your criminal case to be one of your lawyer’s first ones.
Instead, you want a lawyer who knows exactly what to do in your type of case and knows the ins and outs of the legal system. This is something that only years of expertise can bring.
Also, it’s not just about understanding the practice of law. It’s about having the authority and confidence to exercise it effectively.
Consider asking your potential lawyer for some references. These previous clients may give you a good idea of what you can expect in the realm of expertise from this attorney.
2. “What Types of Cases Can You Handle?”
Experience is just half the battle. Your attorney needs to have experience in the area in which your legal problem falls if you want a good outcome.
For instance, maybe you’ve been taken into custody for robbery or theft. Or maybe your problem involves driving under the influence.
A family law attorney won’t do much for you. You need a criminal defense attorney who is adept at dealing with those facing the types of charges that have been filed against you.
The more that lawyers handle certain types of cases, they more the develop their natural instincts for what actually works and what does not in those situations. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
3. “How Often Have You Gone to Trial?”
You likely know that many individuals suffer from stage fright. In other words, they end up freezing up due to anxiety when it is their turn to speak in public.
On the flip side, other people thrive in the limelight.
You need an attorney that falls into the latter category. A lawyer who has extensive experience at trial will most likely have no problem thriving when before a jury and judge.
Plus, this type of attorney won’t be easily rattled by an unreasonable prosecutor. Instead, he or she will keep defending your rights as though his or her own life depended on it.
Speaking of defending you, ask your potential lawyer how exactly he or she intends to do this.
A wide range of defense strategies is available given the circumstances surrounding your case, with each coming with its own benefits and risks.
For instance, perhaps police did not perform a legal search of your property. In this situation, the evidence that authorities have gathered against you may be inadmissible, which means your case might end up being dismissed.
4. “What Are my Chances of Success at Trial?”
If you face criminal charges, you, of course, have the right to proceed to trial. But that doesn’t mean you always should.
Knowing when to head to trial and when to seek to negotiate a plea agreement is paramount. And that’s why you need a competent lawyer.
Your lawyer should be able to carefully evaluate your case’s strength and determine your chances of losing or winning at trial.
If it looks like you might lose, will your sentence be higher than what you could secure with a plea deal? If so, pursuing a plea agreement is the way to go.
You need to find out what type of offer your attorney thinks the prosecutor will make. Then, what can the lawyer do to enhance the prosecutor’s offer? And what type of counter-offer is he or she ready to make?
Keep in mind, though, that although some attorneys, including some Sydney criminal lawyers, use plea agreements as effective tools, others use them as crutches. In other words, some attorneys are quick to strike a plea deal with prosecutors simply because they aren’t inherently aggressive defense litigators.
The problem here is that a prosecutor might not take this type of attorney seriously, which means you may get the short end of the stick with your plea deal.
Again, this further emphasizes the point we made earlier about choosing an attorney with strong trial experience and a proven track record of success.
You simply don’t have time for trial and error.
5. “What Role Will I Play in All of This?”
Sometimes when you face criminal charges, there are certain things you can do to improve your case’s outcome.
For instance, perhaps you can complete a drug rehab program or take part in counseling.
Also, ask your prospective attorney what role you should play when your case goes to trial. Should you simply observe, or should you get up on the witness stand?
Your attorney should be able to tell you what will ultimately be in your best interest.
6. “What Will the Cost Be?”
This question is clearly an essential one. You need to know how much an attorney will cost you and have payment options are available.
In addition, will an expert witness need to be hired to offer testimony at your trial? This needs to be factored into the cost as well.
7. “Will You Communicate with me Effectively?”
Strong communication is absolutely necessary when you’re working with an attorney.
So, be sure to ask a lawyer when you can expect to be contacted as your case moves forward. Your attorney should be able to keep you reasonably updated about the progress of your case and about essential dates to know.
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