When asked, many people will tell you to spend as much as you can in order to secure yourself a criminal defense lawyer. But while it’s true that lawyers, especially defense ones, can cost a pretty penny, you won’t necessarily get the best service from the most expensive lawyer. The best attorneys may not necessarily be the most expensive ones; and the worst attorneys may not be the cheapest. Generally, there is no consistency with either oft-believed-in analogy, so you’ll need to do your own vetting when it comes to looking for a lawyer who will adequately defend you in a court of law.
Consider, first and foremost, the severity of your case. Criminal cases are usually pretty serious in terms of the alleged charges and the possible repercussions. Not only do you have everything to lose, so do your family members and close friends. So start out by vetting criminal defense lawyers on your own. If you know of friends or even acquaintances who have had to hire a criminal defense lawyer, ask them what their experience was like, and if they’d recommend the lawyer they used.
Looking locally for a potential criminal defense lawyer makes the most sense, since you’ll want someone within decent driving distance. New York City residents, for example, would want to look for a lawyer such as NY lawyer Joe Tacopina, or other lawyers who are based in the New York area. But you may very well have to consider out-of-town options, especially if the pickings in your area or slim. In this case, it can pay to go online and look at websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, as well as criminal defense websites and forums, for suggestions of lawyers in your area.
Firm-wise, you can choose a small law firm, or a large one. Smaller firms are typically more affordably priced, but you may not have as much collective education and experience to draw from. But while a larger law firm may be priced a bit higher, you’ll have more lawyers and resources at your disposal – an important factor if your criminal case is serious enough that you could face hefty fines and/or a significantly long prison sentence.
Once you have selected a potential lawyer, make sure he or she knows all of the details of your criminal case. Don’t sugarcoat or brush over any facts; in fact, make sure you have copies of all of the documents relating to your case ready to hand over for them to go through. The more they know and the sooner they know it, the sooner you’ll know if you’re a good fit for a particular lawyer – and vice versa.
Be prepared to have a lot of meetings with your lawyer, and make sure your wallet is prepared by asking ahead of time for fees. Hopefully the initial consultation is free or low in cost, but you can expect to be billed for subsequent appointments. So for your wallet’s sake, and your lawyer’s schedule, try to keep appointments to a bare minimum. Communicate via phone or even email to make the process of your lawyer preparing to defend you as efficient as possible. But if you ever have questions or concerns about how your case is progressing, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give your lawyer a ring.