If you are facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
There are a multitude of knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers available. However, choosing one that will fight for the best outcome is a challenging task.
Most lawyer offices offer free consultations to learn about your case before they accept you as a client. While some may be reluctant to provide you with what they deem to be ‘free legal advice’, a consultation is a good time for you to assess their background, experience, and tactics. This pre-assessment can help you determine if they are the best criminal defense lawyer for your case and if a lawyer-client relationship is worth pursuing.
In this article, we discuss what questions you should ask a potential lawyer before you sign a contract, and why they’re important. Keep reading to learn more.
Important Questions to Ask Lawyers in Your Free Consultation
1. How long have you practiced criminal law?
Lawyers are heavily scrutinized and assessed for excellence. In the majority of states, lawyers must complete extensive education requirements and meet standards recognized by the bar of their jurisdiction to practice law.
That being said, as with any industry, practice does make perfect. It is vital to ensure that your potential criminal defense lawyer has significant experience practicing criminal law. Their experience and comfort in the court could mean the difference between a less than satisfactory outcome and victory.
2. What areas of law do you focus on?
Unsurprisingly, there are various areas of criminal law, including domestic violence, sex crimes, theft, drug, and violent crimes, among many other areas. Before hiring a lawyer, make sure that they have the experience and expertise needed to defend the specific charge that you are facing.
3. How often do your cases go to trial?
The track record of an attorney can be telling to the outcome of your case. If the criminal defense lawyer regularly settles cases via plea bargain rather than trial, the lawyer may not have the appropriate experience to represent you in a trial.
As a previous question stated, practice is key. Your criminal defense lawyer should have court experience, especially if your case goes to trial.
4. Will you personally be handling my case or will someone else be working on it?
The attorney you speak to in your consultation may be the person who is personally handling your case. However, some attorneys have a team who helps them with cases.
For instance, a lawyer may enlist the assistance of paralegals to work on your case. This can a good thing for certain tasks, but if the attorney relies too heavily on a paralegal, it could lead to a greater risk for details to be overlooked or misinterpreted.
Another problem that can arise is when an attorney you hire hands your case off to a young and inexperienced associate that may lack the ability to get you the best possible outcome. If an associate will be handling your case, you will want to make sure the someone with experience will be overseeing their work every step of the way.
5. Will I be able to communicate with you whenever I need to?
Communication is essential when it comes to a lawyer-client relationship. You should be able to call, text or email your lawyer if you need their help.
Discuss your communication expectations to determine if it is an appropriate partnership. Additionally, confirm how you can get in touch with them, and how long it will take them to reply.
6. How would you handle my case?
While it’s not possible to fully assess your entire case in an initial consultation, a good lawyer should at least give you some insight into how they would handle your case so that you can make an informed decision about whether they are the right lawyer.
7. What obstacles do you anticipate in my case?
In the end, you want a realistic attorney who doesn’t just discuss best-case scenarios. You will need to prepare for everything and plan for different outcomes.
In your consultation, you may ask what potential outcomes they anticipate with the available information, how likely those scenarios are going to happen, and how to prepare for them.
8. How much will your services cost?
While the consultation is free, the services will absolutely cost you money. The attorney should be able to give you an estimate of how much it will cost to handle your case.
There are several factors to consider, and asking the following questions can help you gain a better idea of expected expenses:
- Do you charge a flat rate or an hourly rate? How much is the rate?
- Do you have a payment plan, or do I need to pay the entire fee up front?
- Are there any other expenses I will have to pay for?
If you end up speaking with a few different lawyers, you will find that rates/fees vary quite dramatically based on the law firm’s experience and ability. While you certainly do not want to simply hire the cheapest lawyer you can find, it is understandable that the vast majority of people do have to factor in price. It is best to be realistic about what you are able to afford so you don’t run into financial trouble down the road.
One other comment about flat fees vs. hourly rates. The majority of criminal defense attorneys charge flat fees rather than hourly rates. While this initially may sound more expensive to you, be aware that hourly fees can be deceiving. Under many hourly agreements, you are paying from every minute the layer spends thinking about your case, reading police reports, emailing, talking to you on the phone, waiting around in court, etc. Because many criminal cases can go on for months on end (and some well over a year), these hourly fees can really add up in a hurry and eventually far surpass what you would have paid in a flat fee.
9. How long do you estimate my case will take?
Though each case is different, your lawyer should be able to give you a rough estimate for how long your case might take. This way, you can prepare accordingly.
10. Why should I choose you?
In the end, it’s always a good idea to hear what the attorney values most.
Do they promise to put your needs first? Are they willing to go above and beyond to make sure your case gets the best results possible? Do they have a strong track record for successful cases? Would past clients recommend their services?
Your attorney should have a strong answer for why they are the best lawyer for your case!
Choose an experienced and dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney
Take the first step in resolving your criminal charges and schedule a free consultation with criminal defense attorneys Court and Michelle Will.
Will & Will is a husband and wife criminal defense team serving the Seattle area.
Uniquely, the team is willing to speak with prospective clients more than once via phone, text, email, and in-person before they charge you a dime!
Why do they do this? So you can be sure you are getting the best defense you can get. They take the time to answer all your questions and speak with you in-depth about their defense strategies before taking you on as a client.
They care about each of their clients and want to help you succeed. They promise to work tirelessly with you, so you receive the best possible outcome in your unique case.
For more information, contact Will & Will today to schedule your free consultation!