How do I go about finding a good criminal defense attorney in Michigan?
If you face felony or misdemeanor charges, it is normal to feel anxious and confused. What might happen? Could you be looking at jail? How to find an attorney you can trust?
10 Tips to Finding a Good Criminal Defense Attorney
There is no exact science to finding the best criminal defense attorney to protect and defend you on criminal charges in Michigan. Here are some tips to help you find a trustworthy defense lawyer.
- An Attorney Should Communicate and Return Calls and Emails
Time is of the essence when you’ve been accused of a crime. It would be best if you had a lawyer who has the time to help you and is motivated to work on your case immediately. If you’ve reached out to an attorney for help and they take their time getting back to you, you have some reason to be concerned that you might not be their top priority. The benefit of working with a criminal defense law firm, as opposed to a solo practice lawyer, is that you will be confident someone will be available when you need to talk or help. If you get a return call promptly, you will have confidence the attorney will do what is necessary to defend you.
- The Right Attorney Specializes in Criminal Law
The right attorney exclusively practices criminal defense law. Check a lawyer’s website and Avvo profile to see if they practice in multiple areas of the law. If they do, you know they are a “jack of all trades” lawyer, not a specialist. Who would you want to help you with a heart condition? A doctor who is a heart specialist, or would you want a general, family doctor?
- Choose Someone Experienced in Court
In addition to finding an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney, you should look for a lawyer that has appeared in the court where your case is pending. Local connections and relationships can go a long way when fighting a criminal charge; however, you want to be careful of an attorney who claims to have close relationships with prosecutors and judges. Lawyers who present themselves as having “special connections” are engaged in unethical, prohibited behavior. Suppose a lawyer is willing to bend the rules to manipulate you into hiring them. In that case, you can bet that one of two things is happening, either (1) they are not being honest, or (2) they will value those relationships over their commitment to you and your case.
The indisputable fact is that lawyers willing to fight for their clients get the best results. Judges and prosecutors give the best deals to lawyers they respect, not those they can rely on to sell out their bamboozled clients.
- Check Reputable Sources. Do your Due Diligence.
You can learn a lot about an attorney on the internet. Some of these sources are reputable, and some are not. You can check the State Bar of Michigan to see if a lawyer has any formal discipline on their record. The State Bar of Michigan is an excellent place to start, but your research shouldn’t stop there.
Some websites like Google+, Facebook, and Avvo don’t let attorneys remove unflattering reviews, so these websites can be valuable resources. One or two bad reviews alone are not a “red flag” because a couple of negative experiences might signify a personality conflict. Overall, a lawyer should have overwhelmingly positive reviews from clients.
- Ask for Referrals from Lawyers, Friends, and Family
One of the best ways to find the right attorney for you is by asking lawyers you might know, friends and family. Those with first-hand knowledge of a criminal defense lawyer can make a recommendation or advise you of someone you should avoid. Lawyers who do not practice criminal law might be able to recommend someone they trust and respect. Remember, you want a criminal law specialist, so you will not want to hire your relative’s divorce lawyer because they were terrific in court on a family law matter.
- The Right Attorney Knows the Basics Off the Top of Their Head
An experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to talk with you about the general aspects of the law that impact your case, what outcomes are possible, and what strategies might be available to you for a strong defense. A lawyer doesn’t have to know everything off the top of their head; however, someone who doesn’t know the basics and cannot provide clear answers to your questions is probably a general practice lawyer or not well qualified.
An attorney doesn’t have to know everything without looking things up, but they must be familiar with the most common crimes, defenses, and legal procedures. They should be able to explain the possible and likely penalties for the charges against you.
- Look for a Clear Fee Structure
The best defense attorney doesn’t want confusion about their bill or what fees you can expect to pay. Instead, they will explain in simple terms how they charge fees and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding their fees for services and the total cost of your defense. Steer clear of lawyers with “cookie-cutter” fees because every case and client is different. A lawyer that charges a one-size-fits-all fee will be reluctant to put in the extra effort it might take to get you the best possible result. Don’t be sold out by the lowest bidder. Rest assured, there are good, affordable criminal defense attorneys who charge fair fees.
- A Zealous Lawyer Will Be Enthusiastic About Defending You
Like people in every profession, some work harder than others. Your life, family, reputation, and more are on the line. You want someone motivated and committed to doing everything humanly possible to protect and defend you in and out of court. The highest caliber of defense lawyers conduct a thorough investigation, do what is necessary to win at trial, fight to get charges dismissed, and do whatever it takes to achieve the best possible result.
The way to find this attorney is to look for enthusiasm. While your attorney should have significant, the number of years of experience isn’t everything. The right attorney has a certain level of sincere interest in their work and must be eager to dive into your case on your behalf.
- They Have Credible Confidence
Any lawyer you consult will likely express confidence, so how do you know if their confidence reflects their ability? Arrogance and confidence are not the same things. Be sure to pay close attention to how a lawyer talks about their skills and views on your case. Warnings signs include:
- promises or guaranteed results,
- specific win/loss percentages or claims of never losing a case,
- claims they will get special “favors” from judges or prosecutors, or
- making disparaging or insulting comments about other lawyers instead of talking about their qualities.
- They Are Willing to Collaborate With You
At the end of the day, you are facing a conviction and incarceration, not the lawyer. You should have a voice in your defense, and your lawyer should be willing to listen and consider your opinions regarding evidence, witnesses, defenses, motions, and strategies. Your lawyer will be the expert and make the right decisions in your defense; however, if they do not include you in the decisions, you have no assurance that their priorities align with yours. Communication is critical, and your goals should always be known and considered.
Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan
With so much on the line, you cannot afford to decide on a lawyer based solely on low legal fees or any other individual factor. Finding the right Michigan criminal defense lawyer is worth the time and effort. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and expect respectful, thoughtful answers. Even though it’s essential to take the time to find the right lawyer if you face criminal allegations, it’s equally vital to work quickly to protect your interests.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.