When I talk to current and former clients, almost all of them discuss how stressful it was for them after they were arrested or charged. One of the most stressful parts of being charged with a crime is how to hire a skilled and experience attorney who will devote time to your case. Unfortunately, lawyers do not have the best reputation in our society and the reality is that there are plenty of attorneys who are responsible for that fact. In an effort to provide useable information to individuals that do not have experience hiring a criminal lawyer, here are some essential tips before hiring an attorney for your case.

Does the attorney have actual trial experience?

Many attorneys who advertise themselves as trial attorneys have little to no trial experience. Before you ever hire an attorney, take the time to ask them about the number of trials that they have done and what types of trials have they handled. Trial experience is entirely different from appearing in court on a routine pretrial or arraignment. If your attorney is not a credible trial lawyer, then the government is never going to take the threat of trial seriously. This can and will affect the offer you may receive on a case. Until your opponent (the prosecution) views your attorney as a credible threat at trial, they will have no incentive to offer you the best possible deal before you make the decision on whether to take your criminal case to trial.

Does the attorney have experience in the court where your case is being heard?

Almost thirty separate criminal courthouses exist in Los Angeles and Orange County. Each courthouse has its own unique personality. Within these courthouses, every courtroom will be run somewhat differently due to a different judge and court clerk having their own method of operations. One courthouse may be known for having a jury pool favorable to the prosecution (such as Torrance, Antelope Valley, or Pomona) while others may have a more defense friendly jury reputation (Compton, East Los Angeles, Airport). Judges may be well known for starting right at 8:30 or for beginning later in the morning. More importantly, a defense attorney needs to know the prosecutors for the courthouse where your case is being heard. If your attorney has no experience with the courtroom where your case is being heard, then they lack the insight and experience of an attorney who knows the area, court, judge, and prosecutor.

Will the person you are hiring be the actual attorney who represents you in court?

Many of my clients have hired a different criminal lawyer in the past and a common complaint about their past attorneys is that they seldom personally appeared in court. Unfortunately, many attorneys will only be present for the initial meeting where a client signs up for representation. These attorneys will then offload the actual case work to junior associates or contractors who have little experience in criminal law. Every attorney will have emergencies arise where it may be necessary to have another attorney continue a case, but this should be the rare exception and not the rule. Make sure your attorney is committing to personal representation on your case.

What is your attorney’s commitment to communicating with you?

The number one complaint that the State Bar of California receives is that clients are unable to communicate with their lawyers. In a criminal case, you are the one who is facing the damage to your reputation and the threat to your freedom. The best attorney will take the time to explain to you every step of the criminal process so that you never feel as if you are making decisions without a full understanding of the consequences of those choices. Additionally, the best attorney will provide with you with the ability to reach them directly when you have a question or concern about your case. If you have trouble speaking directly with an attorney when making a hiring decision, imagine how difficult it will be to reach them when you have retained their services.

How comfortable do you feel with your attorney?

The legal process is intimidating, but sometimes your common sense will be the best guide when making a criminal attorney hiring decision. If you find your attorney to be a jerk, then it is likely that judges, prosecutors, and jurors will have similar feelings. If your attorney comes across as knowledgeable and credible when speaking to you, then it is more likely that others will agree. Remember that your attorney is your representative in court. The prosecutor and judge will have very little to no interaction with you in court. The criminal lawyer that you choose will essentially be standing in your place for those conversations. Make sure that person is someone you are proud to be acting on your behalf.

Hiring the best criminal defense attorney is not something that should be decided without speaking to the attorney directly. I am here to help and want to answer all the questions that you have about your individual case. Please reach out immediately and learn why I believe my background and experience will benefit you immediately.