Very few people ever plan to need the services of a criminal defense lawyer such as Kyle Whitaker. However, it’s possible you will need to hire a defense attorney at some point in the future.
If you ever find yourself in these circumstances, it’s essential that you hire an attorney qualified to provide you with the effective representation you deserve. Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer can profoundly influence the outcome of your case.
That said, again, you may not expect to be in need of a criminal defense attorney’s services. So, you might also not know how to choose one.
Don’t worry, if so. The following tips will help. If you’re ever charged with a crime, keep these points in mind when choosing a lawyer:
Look for Specific Skills and Qualifications
Not all criminal defense lawyers handle all types of potential cases. For example, the skills necessary to represent someone charged with a traffic crime aren’t necessarily the same as those needed to represent someone charged with a white collar crime.
An otherwise talented and experienced attorney might nevertheless not be qualified to handle your particular case if they don’t specialize in the applicable area of the law. When considering your options, narrow down your list of potential lawyers by focusing on those who typically represent clients charged with crimes similar to your own.
Ask About Past Cases
Whenever you hire an individual or business to provide a service, it’s wise to ask for testimonials. Anyone who consistently delivers quality service should be eager to share the positive feedback they’ve received from clients and customers in the past. Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask if they can cite projects similar to yours that they’ve successfully completed.
The same principle applies when hiring an attorney. Granted, due to attorney-client privilege, the degree to which a lawyer can go into specific detail when discussing past cases may be limited unless they’ve already received permission from their clients. However, if they have relevant experience, they should at least be able to give you a general sense of how they’ve previously handled cases like yours, even if they have to omit some details.
Also, ask attorneys if they have experience handling cases in the courtroom where your case is pending. Local experience is beneficial for several reasons. First, some procedures can vary from one courthouse to another. It’s helpful to have representation from a lawyer who already understands the relevant procedures. Perhaps more importantly, if your lawyer has experience in the courthouse where your case is pending, they may have a relationship with the judge and/or district attorney that could improve your odds of being offered a satisfactory deal.
Pay Attention to Mannerisms
A skilled attorney may be able to successfully resolve your case without going to trial. That said, no attorney can promise a satisfactory plea deal. You must consider the possibility that you’ll have to go to court.
When meeting with attorneys you’re considering hiring, pay attention to their mannerisms, focusing specifically on qualities that indicate whether they seem to be able to represent you effectively during a trial.
Keep in mind that subtle details, such as the way an attorney is dressed or how confidently they speak, can influence the jury and judge, even if only on a subconscious level. Your goal is to hire a lawyer who you believe will make the right impression in court if necessary.
Don’t Trust Grandiose Promises
Again, an experienced attorney may be able to explain why they’re qualified to represent you by discussing past successes. However, just as no honest attorney can promise a plea deal, no lawyer can truthfully promise an ideal outcome.
When you meet with an attorney you’re considering hiring, you want to hear that they can guarantee your case will be resolved quickly and you won’t be convicted of a crime. That’s understandable. Just be aware that a criminal defense attorney who only tells you what you want to hear isn’t being upfront. You’re better off hiring a lawyer who clearly and honestly explains the possible outcomes to you when discussing your case, even if some of those outcomes are the type you’d prefer to avoid.
Monitor Your Comfort Levels
When working with an attorney, you’ll need to share information with them and discuss topics with them that can be difficult to speak about with anyone, let alone someone who you’ve likely only met recently. In order for your attorney to properly represent you, you have to feel reasonably comfortable discussing your case with them.
Remember that when meeting with lawyers before you’ve chosen who to hire. After all, there isn’t necessarily only one lawyer who has the skills and experience needed to represent you. If you’re choosing between two lawyers who appear equally qualified, but you’re more comfortable speaking about your case with one of them, that’s naturally the attorney you should probably hire.
Also, when contacting lawyers, pay attention to how responsive they are. While you do have to remember that attorneys often handle many cases at once, and therefore might not be able to respond immediately when you reach out to them, they also shouldn’t make you wait excessively long for responses to emails and calls.
Do Independent Research
Despite how they may be portrayed in movies and TV, many criminal defense attorneys are genuinely trustworthy people who are passionate about ensuring those accused of crimes receive the fair representation they deserve under the Constitution. That said, virtually no profession is completely free of dishonest individuals. There are likely some criminal defense lawyers who won’t be entirely truthful when describing how they’re qualified to represent you, as their goal will simply be to ensure you hire them.
Knowing this, you should conduct some independent research before making a hiring decision. For example, there are many websites where former clients can review their attorneys. If an attorney promises to deliver stellar results, but you find many of their past clients are deeply unhappy with the quality of their services, you may need to choose a different lawyer.
Just remember how critically important it is to apply these tips when seeking a criminal defense attorney. Selecting the right lawyer could be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. The advice here will improve your chances of making the best decision possible given the circumstances.