You have been charged with a crime? You need to hire a criminal attorney. You need to do that sooner rather than later. Time is of the essence in criminal cases. Schedule a meeting with any potential attorneys. It is very important to come to that meeting prepared. Bring with you:
- Any documents you received from the court showing your charges and next court appearance date
- Your bail papers
- Any paperwork the police gave you
- A copy of the police report
It is also helpful to the attorney if you provide a list of witnesses, victims, and other defendants. Most importantly bring your questions for the attorney you are meeting. It is important to determine if the lawyer has experience in your type of case. Some good questions to ask:
- How long have you been practicing criminal law?
- Do you frequently negotiate plea agreements with the prosecutors office?
- Do you have a relationship with the prosecutors office?
- How often do your clients go to trial?
- How familiar are you with the charges against me?
You should also ask about your case specifically, for example:
- What are my legal options?
- Would you recommend a guilty plea, a plea agreement, or a trial?
- What are the problems you see with my case?
- What are the different stages I will go through in the process of my case?
It is very important to ask about how the attorney will manage your case:
- Are you available to represent me?
- Will anyone else work on my case?
- If I have any questions, do I call you? If not, who is my contact?
- How do you prefer to be contacted? When will you respond?
Most criminal lawyers will either charge by the hour, or ask for a flat fee. It is important to know what your costs are, so ask:
- Do you charge an hourly rate or a flat fee?
- What is your hourly rate? Will I have to pay a retainer fee?
- What is your flat fee? What does it include?
- Are there other expenses?
Once all of your questions are answered, you need to make a choice. You should choose the attorney that you are most comfortable with. Being charged with a crime is extremely stressful and you must also feel at ease and comfortable with the attorney that you choose to represent you.
Questions? Call Larry now for answers. Larry Avallone is a former Volusia County Deputy Sheriff and a former State Prosecutor. He can help you navigate the Volusia County legal system.
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