If you are arrested, it is extremely important to find someone qualified to represent you. Spending some time to research and interview your potential attorney is a great idea. Many attorneys spend money to market themselves but they may not be the right choice for you. Here are a few suggestions:
- Accept a free consult with at least three attorneys.
- Ask the attorneys about their experience. Have they handled your type of case before? If you are charged with a grand theft, has the attorney taken one of those cases all the way through a jury trial? You need an attorney who can offer you both the option of a plea resolution and a trial. If you hire someone who has only “plead out” cases, if a great plea deal cannot be negotiated, your attorney may not be prepared to try your case.
- Is your attorney a former prosecutor, and does it matter? It depends. Many attorneys market prior prosecution experience. A former prosecutor may know the general approach of the State Attorney’s Office. Ask the attorney if s/he has been a supervisor in the prosecutor’s office. Have they trained prosecutors and law enforcement? If they only worked at a prosecutor’s office for a year or two but were not exposed to all types of crimes (misdemeanors, juvenile and felonies), their experience as a prosecutor may not be that helpful. Similarly, if they were not exposed to policy decisions and are unaware of the priorities in the prosecutor’s office, their experience may not be that valuable.
- Ask the attorneys to analyze your case and have them discuss a plan to help you. Does the plan make sense to you? Are they understanding your situation? Are they offering you ways to help protect your privacy? Do you know all the consequences? Will your attorney be available to communicate with you when you have questions?
Hiring the right attorney can feel overwhelming but your freedom is worth it. Take your time, ask questions and hire someone who is best for you.