Each year, more than 600,000 people in the US enter prison gates. In total, Americans go to jail a staggering 10.6 million times every year. Crime charges are among the top reasons people find themselves behind bars in the country. Of course, not all crime accusations end in a conviction. Just because you’re facing a criminal charge doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed. What should you do when you’ve been charged with a crime? Your first move should be to contact a criminal defense lawyer. This is especially important when you’re facing an aggravated assault case, where a conviction could lead to a lengthy prison sentence or worse.
But even if you’ve been charged with a seemingly minor crime, a conviction could still result in a criminal record. Such a record can haunt for many years or even a lifetime. A criminal defense attorney can fight for you, helping get your charges drastically reduced or dropped altogether. The challenge, of course, is knowing which lower is best suited to represent you.
In this post, we give you seven guidelines on choosing a criminal defense attorney you can trust. Read on to learn more.
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What Exactly Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?
Criminal defense attorneys in the US deal with cases surrounding arrests, criminal investigations and charges, sentencing, appeals, and post-trial affairs. Typically, criminal defense attorneys in Tampa specialize in various niches within criminal defense, such as DUI defense, drug defense, aggravated assault defense, and so on. Criminal defense lawyers may work for the federal, state, or local government. Many work for private law firms.
When you’re facing jail time due to a criminal charge, the right legal representation can make a world of difference. Look for a lawyer with the following qualities:
If this is the first time you’re going to work with a criminal defense attorney, it’s likely that you don’t know any criminal defense attorneys personally. One of the best ways to find an attorney you’ll have an excellent experience with is by getting recommendations from people you know and trust.
Friends, relatives, or colleagues who’ve worked with such lawyers before may be able to suggest some excellent attorneys you can check out. Consider reading online reviews too to get a good idea of how satisfied previous clients are with the attorney. Sure, the best lawyers sometimes have a few negative reviews, but the general public opinion about them is always positive.
Specialty in Criminal Law
As you probably already know, law is a broad field. Lawyers may specialize in different types of law, including corporate law, civil law, criminal law, bankruptcy law, and so on. You want to work with an attorney who specializes in criminal law. Even better, you want someone familiar with the specific type of crime you’ve been accused of. If you’re facing an aggravated assault charge, then seek out an aggravated assault attorney.
It is not enough that your potential criminal defense attorney specializes in criminal defense law or handled cases similar to yours before. You want a lawyer with actual experience prosecuting cases in court. Numerous criminal defense attorneys have lots of experiences negotiating plea agreements. However, most of these attorneys have little experience fighting aggressively in court for their clients.
Ask your potential attorney how many cases they’ve prosecuted in court before. Are they willing to go toe-to-toe with the prosecutor, or do they recommend settling as early as possible?
Of course, hiring a lawyer with trial experience doesn’t necessarily mean your case must go to trial. However, it does give you the assurance that, should things come to that, your lawyer won’t be afraid to go to trial and win.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney with trial experience is no good if such an attorney loses most of their cases. That’s why you need to find out the success rate of an attorney. Inquire how many cases your potential lawyer has handled in the past and how many they’ve actually won. If your potential aggravated assault lawyer has dealt with 40 cases similar to yours and won in at least 35 of them, they’re a good bet.
Accessibility relates to your ability to access your criminal defense lawyer or their legal team. Many times, clients complain that the only time their attorney is accessible is when the lawyer is receiving payment. Facing criminal charges can be a tough experience, and your lawyer needs to be available for you whenever you need them. The best attorney understands just how much of a personal undertaking representing you is. They set aside enough time to learn the facts from you and understand both the how and the why behind the accusation.
A good attorney may even opt to visit you at home or in other settings to learn more about the matter. They understand that the office may be a barrier to personal communication and go out of their way to talk to you outside of the office. The ideal lawyer for you will also maintain regular communication with you. They’ll make it easy for you to reach them through a variety of channels.
The best legal representation seldom comes cheap, especially when you’re facing a serious criminal charge. But a good attorney won’t push to bankruptcy by charging ridiculously high rates. During your first meeting, inquire about how much you can expect to pay for representation. Watch out for suspiciously low rates as they may point to a lack of experience or hidden charges. Ensure your potential attorney provides a written, signed contract before you hire them. Don’t be afraid of discussing the fee schedule and payment plans before you enter into a professional relationship with them.
Find the Best Crime Defense Attorney for You
A criminal charge is a serious matter, particularly when it involves aggravated assault. With so much at stake, you shouldn’t try to navigate the legal process alone. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer is the surest ticket to freedom.
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