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Hiring a Criminal Lawyer – A Simple Guide to Protecting Your Rights

Hiring a Criminal Lawyer – A Simple Guide to Protecting Your Rights

Dealing with the legal system can be an overwhelming process. If you’re inexperienced, trying to represent yourself can cause delays in or even affect the outcome of your case. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a criminal defense lawyer.

Great – where do I find one of those?

Asking friends and family members for recommendations is a good way to start looking for a reputable defense attorney. Check if your state bar association has a lawyer referral service. You could also search for lawyers online or in the Yellow Pages. As a general rule, it’s not recommended to hire a lawyer you see on a TV ad.

So how much is this all going to cost me?

Price will depend on a number of factors, mainly the difficulty level of your case and the lawyer’s standard rates. The best way to find an accurate estimate is to meet with an attorney. Although meeting with an attorney does not require you to hire him, be aware that some criminal lawyers charge an initial consultation fee that you are required to pay even if you choose not to hire the lawyer. If your lawyer charges an hourly rate, it may be a good idea to ask for a maximum fee.

I have a low income and don’t think I can afford representation. What can I do?

Check into a ‘legal services’ office in your town, which may offer reduced costs. In special cases, lawyers may offer their services “pro bono” which means they won’t charge a fee, but be wary because this does not mean no other case fees will arise. Also, you can negotiate the price a criminal lawyer quotes, but don’t rely on this method because willingness to negotiate varies between lawyers.

I’ve made a consultation – what questions should I ask?

You’ll want to ask your lawyer any questions you have that are specific to your case. Here’s a few basic questions to start with.

–What areas do you specialize in?

–Have you handled similar cases before? If yes, how many and with what outcomes?

–How long will the entire legal process take in this case?

–How much will my case cost?

–What can I do to help my case, or help you handle my case?

–Will you regularly update me on the progress of my case?

–If I have a question, how long will it take you to get back to me?

–Have you ever been suspended from practicing law? If so, why?

–In the case of an emergency, will I be able to reach you after hours?

Hiring a defense attorney doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember that your lawyer works for you, so don’t be afraid to ask all questions you may have. With enough preparation and the right criminal defense lawyer, your legal experience can be a positive one.