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Things to Consider before You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

by Robert Kerr

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If you’re embroiled in a criminal case or are facing serious criminal charges, you know you’re in big trouble. You’re going to need a skilled lawyer by your side as soon as possible. The decision to engage the services of the right criminal defense attorney in Chicago may be one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.

There is, however, a difference between an attorney and a good attorney. While most of them claim to be experts in their field of law, you can only be sure of their skills once they prove themselves.

Anyone with a degree in law can launch a website and proclaim that they’ve successfully handled several criminal cases in the past. It is you who needs to be smart and figure out the right criminal defense lawyer for yourself.

Below are a few key considerations which should help you decide who to hire.

Area of Specialization

Criminal cases are very sensitive in nature. So you will do well by hiring an attorney whose area of focus is criminal law. Each field of law differs from the other to a great extent, and learning the tricks of the trade for each one takes a lot of time.

Hence, if the lawyer you’ve engaged deals mainly with personal injury, family law or other areas, then you may have a reason to worry. You don’t want an attorney who is a jack of all trades but a master of none!

Number of Years of Experience

While it is important for a lawyer to be skilled, his experience matters too. There is no better teacher than experience and several lawyers take up to a decade to earn the kind of knowledge required to handle a case meritoriously.

How your case turns out in the end can be life-changing for you. So it makes sense to entrust it in the hands of an experienced attorney only.

Foundation of Experience

In keeping with the above point, you may want to steer clear of attorneys who have just started practicing out of law school. While still studying law, they may have been trained as apprentices, but the actual experience of being a lawyer is earned only after passing out of law school.

It is always better to engage a lawyer who has learned from other more senior and experienced attorneys early in his career.

Legal Training

You definitely want an attorney who has passed out from a law school of good repute as he/she will have a solid foundation in legal training. A degree from a top law school suggests that the attorney is clever and hard working. Now these are the qualities you want in your lawyer!

Referrals Received

A good attorney will invariably enjoy the goodwill of his colleagues as well as the clients he has associated with in the past. This means that he would be receiving several cases from referrals and recommendations by fellow attorneys and former clients. If an attorney hasn’t been getting a satisfactory number of cases through referrals, it could be a potential red flag.

Number of Criminal Jury Trials Done

Typically, most cases settle before trial. However, if yours does go to trial, you need to ensure that your attorney has a good amount of jury trial experience.

Most attorneys do only a few jury trials, which are extremely intense. Being good at them requires a lot of practice from actual trials.  Ensure that your case does not serve as a practice ground for your attorney.

Rapport with the Court and the Prosecutor

When you imagine yourself in a court, you’re probably reminded of courtroom drama scenes where the most aggressive lawyer wins the case. However, the reality is far from that.

An overly aggressive attorney can do you no good in the courtroom or when negotiating with the prosecutor. It is important that your attorney lives in the real world and has a good working relationship with the courts and prosecutors to get good results.

Making Tall Claims about the Result

Attorneys are proscribed from guaranteeing a specific outcome of the case. If an attorney guarantees you victory, he should be reported to the state bar.

Having a hunch of the probable outcome for your case is okay, but do remember not to get carried away. Every case and the circumstances surrounding it are different. A wise attorney will refrain from assuming anything until he has studied your case carefully.

Representation in the Court

Do not forget to ask your attorney as to who would actually be representing your case in the courtroom.

Several law firms claim to have an attorney on board in their advertisements, but once you hire them, they pass on your case to a different attorney altogether. Hence, it is crucial that you know exactly who your attorney will be.

Fees

When you’re facing criminal charges, you want no one but the best attorney to work by your side. It is understandable that you wouldn’t want to overpay for a service, but a competent lawyer comes at a price.

An attorney who charges a low fee is doing so either because he isn’t experienced enough or handles too many cases simultaneously. Both these scenarios cannot augur well for the result of your case.

Conclusion

Hiring a good criminal lawyer can make all the difference to the outcome of your case. Do keep the above points in mind when hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago to brighten the chances of getting the final verdict in your favor.

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