When you are charged with a crime, a good lawyer can be the only thing that keeps you from going to jail. That's why it's critical you take the time necessary to find someone with the skills and knowledge needed to ensure you're treated fairly in court. When shopping for a criminal defense attorney, here are two important things to check:
Are They Willing to Go to Trial?
Every American has the right to a jury trial. However, taking a case to trial can be expensive and time consuming, and many defendants decide to take a plea deal rather than subject themselves to a lengthy trial. In some cases, pleading out is the smarter option because a trial may bring other issues to the fore that may result in a worse outcome.
Regardless of whether going to trial is the best option in your case, you want to hire a lawyer who isn't afraid to go to trial if the occasion calls for it. Some attorneys only do plea deals and avoid trials at all cost. While this may save time and money, hiring an attorney who is known for this can put you at a distinct disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate a plea deal. The prosecutor may know this about your lawyer and may be less likely to compromise on charges or sentencing knowing your attorney will never challenge them in court.
When meeting with a criminal defense attorney, ask them how often they arrange plea deals vs. litigating trials. If the attorney states a preference for plea deals and only does trials rarely, consider shopping around a bit for someone more aggressive.
What's the Staff Turnover Rate?
Attorneys don't work in a vacuum. They have a lot of people—receptionists, assistants, other lawyers—supporting their efforts. How they treat their support staff can be a good indication of how they will handle you and your case. Although every company has staff turnover, a lawyer's office that churns through employees at a high rate may indicate serious managerial and/or interpersonal issues that can negatively impact your case. At the very least, a personnel office with a constantly revolving door increases the chances of mistakes being made in your case (e.g. lost information, missed filing dates).
It can be difficult to determine what staff turnover is like, but take a moment to observe and talk to the support staff when you meet with your attorney. If you're constantly seeing new faces every time you visit or the staff seems highly stressed or unhappy, you may want to consider transferring your case to another lawyer.
For help with your criminal case, contact legal professionals like those at Shefferman Law.