When you or a loved one is charged with a crime, life can come to a grinding halt. Even if the charge is not terribly serious (such as a misdemeanor) it could still carry substantial penalties. It could also cost you your job.
If you are charged with a felony, especially a serious felony, you could be looking at prison time. This is an uneasy feeling and you may find that everything else in your life seems to stop while the case is pending.
You may want to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you. A good criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get your charges dismissed, reduced, or may be able to get you a great resolution on your case. If a resolution is not possible, your attorney may be able to win your case at trial.
But before any of this happens, you must hire a lawyer. When hiring a criminal defense attorney, consider these criteria:
1) Reputation - How did you find your attorney? Was he or she referred to you? Did you find them on the internet? Ask around about an attorney before you hire them. You may want to check out their Florida Bar record to make sure they have not been disciplined.
2) Experience - Whether the attorney has been in practice for 30 years or for 5 years, make sure they have handled cases similar to your's. You don't want your case to be your attorney's first of its kind. Also, make sure your attorney has trial experience. A good criminal defense attorney probably has a background as a former prosecutor or former public defender, which means that they probably have significant trial experience. Feel free to ask your attorney about previous results on cases.
3) Cost - Your life may be on the line if you are charged with a serious felony. Even if charged with a less serious offense, you still have a lot to lose. Don't bargain shop for a lawyer. I guarantee you can find a criminal attorney who will take your case on the cheap. I can also guarantee that attorney charges little for his or her services because they are not worth anything more. Your attorney's fee doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg, and your attorney may be willing to accept the fee in payments, but a good attorney charges a reasonable fee because they are worth it. When charged with a crime, it is not the time to be cheap. Never simply hire the cheapest lawyer.
4) Gut Feeling - After you've spoken to or met with a prospective criminal attorney, you should have a feeling about them. If you question their ability to handle your case or have any doubts whatsoever, you should move on to the next lawyer. If you get a good feeling from your prospective lawyer, you probably want to trust your gut and go with it. You'll know if you've found the right attorney for you.
5) Knowledge - A good defense attorney is a Jack of all Trades when it comes to crimes. There are lots of criminal offenses out there. They all have different elements, carry different sentences, and require different types of trial preparation in order to defend against them. Your attorney should convey a certain degree of knowledge regarding your charge or charges, what you are facing, whether there are any mandatory minimum sentences, and how to prepare a good defense.
These are just some of the most important criteria that comes to mind. You should be aware of attorneys who make promises or guarantees about results, attorneys who don't do written agreements, and attorneys who were referred to you by your bail bondsman.
I wish you luck on your quest to find the right criminal attorney for your case. If you are facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade or Broward feel free to call me at (305) 542-9491.