What Makes A Great Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you will need a criminal attorney. If you’re like most people, you want the best – the one that will keep you out of jail or get your case dismissed if possible. However, how do you what know makes a great criminal attorney? Below you’ll find some attributes that great lawyers have and why they are so important when practicing law.
#1 Education – A lawyer’s education is important for a number of reasons. Each law school is not the same. Some are more difficult than others are and a few are very prestigious. While this may not ensure a lawyer’s effectiveness, a great law education is highly recommended. As important as law school is, only a lawyer that participates in continuing legal education, seminars and conferences can be assured of being abreast of the latest criminal laws, trial techniques and advanced negotiating skills.
#2 Experience – An experienced criminal attorney is a must. Some criminal attorneys do not have extensive trial experience and some have only worked on specific types of cases. You never want to hire a lawyer who handles more than one type of law for example, only work with a criminal defense specialist. You want a lawyer that has an extensive trial, plea bargaining and negotiating experience if you plan to get the best possible result in your case. Anything less could cost you your freedom.
#3 Familiarity with the Local Court System – A lawyer that is familiar with the courts where you have been charged is also important. Each judge runs their courtroom differently and some will get rather upset or uncooperative if things aren’t done to their liking. When a lawyer is familiar with these nuances and quirks, it will make the entire process go more smoothly and increase the client’s chances of getting an extraordinary result. Some lawyers claim that their “special relationships” with the judges will result in “favors” or “special deals.” These types of claims are unethical and a sign that the attorney is willing to be dishonest in order to sell their services to a potential new client.
#4 Time Management Skills – If your lawyer has dozens of active cases, he or she may not be able to devote as much time to your case as you need. One of the problems with many lawyers today is that they have too many clients and not enough time. You see this all the time with court-appointed attorneys. If a lawyer is extremely busy with quality clients, this a good sign that he or she is a successful, well-respected lawyer that receives a high volume of referrals. If a lawyer’s practice is based on volume rather than quality, look for someone else.
#5 Adequate Resources – Believe it or not, there are a number of lawyers that run their business from the trunk of their car, a temporary office, or space within another lawyer’s office. They don’t have their own office and will take any case that comes their way. Avoid these lawyers and choose one that provides the professional appearance that garners respect. A lawyer with his own office is likely one that has had long-term success in criminal defense and is probably a very good attorney.
#6 Customized Fees – Some criminal defense attorneys run their practices like a restaurant. They pre-determine fees for different types of cases. This is a sign that a lawyer works in volume rather than quality. Take an OWI or a domestic violence case for example. Person A is charged and wants to resolve his case with a plea and Person B wants a trial. A lawyer who charges everyone the same fee is likely to manipulate Person B into a plea or provide substandard, rushed trial work. Every case is different and a great criminal lawyer will take the time to meet with a client in person to determine what resources will be necessary to give them the best possible defense.
#7 Dynamic Personality – Some cases require a criminal defense lawyer that is a fire-breathing dragon. Other cases require an attorney who is a silver-tongued, confident and persuasive negotiator. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to tell which type of attorney will be needed as a case develops and travels through the court system. Many cases require the dragon at one point and the negotiator at other points. A great criminal defense lawyer is one that can be dynamic and provide the type of legal representation that is the best at any given moment in a case.
#8 Credible Threat – Most criminal defense attorneys rarely go to trial and just plead out their clients on a regular basis. It goes without saying that if a client is innocent and his case is going to trial, that he needs a great trial lawyer; but what about the client who is looking for a plea bargain or other type of settlement or dismissal? This person needs a great trial lawyer more than ever because a great trial lawyer is a credible threat to a prosecutor. If a prosecutor is up against an experienced, successful and known trial lawyer, he or she is much more likely to offer a generous plea bargain or dismissal. If a lawyer is known as a plea bargain attorney, the prosecutor knows that not much needs to be offered in the case because the attorney is going to plead out the client no matter the resolution.
#9 – The Google Factor. Almost any lawyer who has any experience will be searchable and researchable on Google. Never hire an attorney before you have an opportunity to research him or her on the Internet. This is not to say that one bad post or one negative result should exclude an attorney but there should be quite a bit of favorable information about a great criminal defense lawyer in populous counties like Oakland County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, Wayne County or Livingston County. Websites like www.avvo.com, www.martindale.com, and SuperLawyers are great resources when looking for a criminal lawyer.
#10 – The X Factor. Some lawyers just have “it” and some don’t. It is critical to meet a lawyer in person before making a selection. The only way to know if you have someone who can be trusted with your fate in his or her hands is to look in that person’s eyes. When you look into his or her eyes and they say they are going to fight for you, you will be able to tell whether it is a sales job or genuine. You can never fully tell over the telephone or through email. If you feel confident that an attorney is a great criminal defense lawyer who is going to provide the best possible legal representation after meeting personally with him or her, it is very likely that you have found the right person for you.