What to Look for When Hiring a Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony and need legal representation, you want a capable criminal defense attorney in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, whose primary practice area is criminal law. The attorney must have courtroom experience, know the legal system in your area, and can spend a significant amount of time on your case. The attorney also needs to have experience defending clients with cases similar to yours. For instance, if you get accused of drug possession, you should choose a criminal defense lawyer who has previously handled drug-related cases. Last, it would be best if you considered hiring a local attorney who has worked cases in the courthouse where your case is pending. Their legal connections may be valuable.
1. Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer, Not a Civil LawyerMost people do not know the difference between criminal defense and personal injury attorneys. One reason for this is that some attorneys work in both practice areas. However, it is important to distinguish between the two simply because you don’t want a personal injury firm to represent you in a felony case. A civil case often involves two or more parties involved in a legal conflict. In most cases, the case is solved between the parties in a private settlement without requiring a judge or jury. The dispute does not involve a crime. By contrast, a criminal defense attorney works with clients charged with a crime by law enforcement or a local or state court. Therefore, you need a criminal lawyer to handle your case – not a civil lawyer.
2. Look for a Criminal Defense Attorney With Experience in Criminal Cases Similar to YoursAlthough certain types of assault and battery and drug crimes are both felonies, they are different types of cases with different circumstances and factors. A criminal defense attorney with experience with assault and battery may not have the same experience defending clients in drug cases. It’s not safe to assume that someone who advertises as a criminal attorney has experience or knowledge of all types of crimes. Before hiring an attorney, make sure they have defended clients in similar cases. Furthermore, make sure they have won cases similar to yours. They need to have a successful track record dealing with other people on trial for the same crimes. Before hiring the attorney, you may want to ask questions, such as
- Have you represented people in cases similar to mine?
- What percentage of your cases involve representing clients charged with the same crime?
- How often do you appear in the court that is handling my case?
3. Hire a Local Criminal Defense AttorneyA local attorney may not have a more prominent firm’s brand recognition or instant notoriety. However, local lawyers have something that many statewide or national firms don’t have: immediate connections to the local legal system. It can be a valuable asset when looking for an attorney to take on your case. Although Massachusetts state laws may be consistent across the board, procedures for trying cases may differ from one courthouse to the next. An attorney that can navigate the legal system in your area and has working relationships with judges, district attorneys, and law enforcement may give you some leverage regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty of a crime.
4. Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney That Gives Your Case the Time and Effort it DeservesWhen your future is on the line, you want an attorney who will give 110% time and effort to your case. It doesn’t matter how large or small the firm is. It also doesn’t matter how many clients they have or their reputation. You only care about your case – not everyone else’s. Your attorney should demonstrate that same level of care. The best attorney-client relationships are those in which clients are full partners in the decision-making process. As a defendant, you should try to hire a lawyer who sees you as a partner, not a case file. They personalize your case and handle it as uniquely as possible based on your needs. Here are some things to consider before you hire an attorney.
- Do you feel comfortable enough to talk openly to the lawyer?
- Does the attorney take the time to explain everything clearly?
- Does the lawyer seem genuine and sincere in their attempt to help you?
- Is the lawyer sensitive to your situation, not just your charge?
- Is the lawyer trustworthy? Do they appear to have a good reputation within the legal system?
5. Look for the Attorney OnlineHaving an online presence is no guarantee that you’ll hire the right attorney. However, being online does build credibility. It also gives you an inside look into the attorney’s track record, professionalism, and reputation. When searching for an attorney online, look at the following resources:
- The law firm’s website
- Reviews and ratings from previous clients
- The law firm’s social media pages
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile
- References from other professional websites
- Massachusetts Bar Association listing