No one wants to end up in the criminal justice system. But many people find themselves in the system anyway. And the worst part is that gross mistakes can happen once you’re in the system, ruining your entire life. This doesn’t have to be your story. Not if you take the time to hire the best criminal defense attorney.

Sadly, hiring a criminal defense lawyer is not as straightforward as it may sound. There are plenty of criminal defense lawyers out there, but their capabilities vary greatly. And as you can expect, hiring the wrong attorney can be very costly.

So, how do you choose the right criminal defense lawyer for your case? Here is what you need to look for:

1. Knowledge & Accreditations

Before you even get into the nitty-gritty details, you need to conduct a background check to determine whether the person you want to hire is even a lawyer in the first place. That means you need to vet their knowledge and accreditation.

This should be pretty easy if you are hiring an attorney from an established firm. Most of these companies will readily provide this information. In fact, the best law firms will have all their accreditations published on their website. And as the folks at McConnell Law Firm demonstrate, good law firms walk their clients through the process before entering into a contract. This should give you an idea of what the next steps are and whether you can rely on the attorneys or not.

On the other hand, dealing with freelancers is a bit tricky. That’s because you have to do extensive research to determine whether their knowledge and accreditations are authentic and relevant to your needs. If you are having a hard time vetting the freelancer, go with a reputable law firm. There’s simply too much at stake to gamble your case with an unproven lawyer.

2. Experience

A criminal charge is not something you want to leave to a lawyer fresh from college. You need an experienced brain that understands the law well enough to give you the best defense.

Now, there are various items to aspects of a lawyer’s experience to consider. First, look for a lawyer with criminal defense experience. As you know, lawyers specialize in different fields. You’ll come across personal injury lawyers, estate planning lawyers, employment lawyers, and so on. Your goal is to find a lawyer that’s experienced in criminal defense, not anything else. That way, you increase the chances of getting a favorable outcome since your attorney is well versed with similar cases.

Next, it’s best to find a lawyer experienced in the local laws—someone who has practiced within the local courts.

Different courts have different regulations. Even judges have certain unspoken preferences. Only an attorney who has practiced within these courts will understand the regulations.

Additionally, a local lawyer will have plenty of networks that can help your case. They could, for instance, contact their friends to speed up your case.

3. Testimonials

Unless you are well experienced in hiring attorneys, never hire a lawyer without going through client reviews and testimonials.

Luckily, there are plenty of platforms to get these reviews from. You can go through Facebook, Google, and other websites to find reviews of the lawyers you are interested in.

Of course, you shouldn’t judge a lawyer based on one bad review, unless it’s really bad. However, if there are plenty of negative reviews, look for a different attorney.

It’s good to do your own research, even if the lawyer has given you the names of their previous clients. That’s because most professionals will not willingly let you interact with a client they had a bad experience with.

4. Communication Skills

Communication is important in a criminal case. The lawyer you work with should be a good listener. Similarly, they should be able to communicate with you and share what they’re trying to do to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Watch how the lawyer you’re interested in interacts with you. Do they take the time to listen and understand your issues?

5. Availability

Criminal cases are very serious, so the last thing you want is to hire someone who’s not even available to you. Such a lawyer can easily mess up your case, and this could land you in jail.

Go for an available lawyer, not the “hot-shot” who doesn’t want to make time for you.

6. Fees

Lastly, you need to consider the attorney fees. Understand that lawyers have different pricing systems. Some will charge by the hour, while others have a fixed rate. The goal here is to find an attorney that’s within your budget.

It’s also good to get a breakdown of all the costs involved before signing the contract.

The risks of hiring a bad criminal defense lawyer are too high to ignore. I mean, we are talking about your freedom here! So don’t take any chances. Use the above tips to get the best attorney for your case.

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