The precarious nature of our society today means that anyone can find themselves facing legitimate or bogus criminal charges for any number of reasons, either individually or as an organization (such as a business).
For instance, let’s say you live in Houston Texas, one of the most populated cities in the United States and a hub of criminal activity. It is not uncommon to hear individuals, small businesses, or even multi-national corporations facing criminal charges or accusations.
In fact, you may face criminal proceedings yourself that you need to defend yourself against. If, say, you have been arrested or charged with a criminal activity such as fraud or bribery in Houston, it’s necessary to hire a Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The primary goal of a criminal defense attorney is to work on behalf of individuals or companies charged with criminal activity (defendants) to protect the defendant’s rights, help them build solid defenses that reduce the negative consequence of the criminal lawsuit (prison time or a hefty fine), and achieve the best possible outcome for a defendant's case.
When hiring a criminal defense attorney to handle a case, however, there are some mistakes you should avoid no matter where you are located.
Let’s discuss four biggest mistakes people make when hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
1. Not Checking Attorney Fees and Costs
It is essential to make sure that you can afford the lawyer you want to hire. Most criminal defense lawyers will charge an hourly rate, ranging from $100–$300 per hour.
Other criminal defense attorneys may work on a contingency basis. This means they will charge you a percentage of the total settlement if your case is won.
How much you'll pay can vary greatly depending on your case. Make sure you are clear on the payment arrangement before signing any contracts.
And just because a lawyer has a high price tag does not mean they are the best for your case. So, before hiring, do extensive research to find the best lawyer for your needs.
2. Not Checking Their Credentials
It is also imperative that you make sure the lawyer you hire has experience handling criminal defense cases. Criminal defense lawyers are trained to research the facts of cases, investigate the specific case against their clients, and negotiate the best deals for their clients.
Aim to find defense attorneys who are highly experienced, have a high success rate, and that many clients speak highly of their services. You can search online for the best reviews from previous clients or ask for references and referrals from family and friends.
Some lawyers will include testimonials on their websites and social media accounts. If you are unsure if an attorney is any good, ask the lawyer directly if they have experience handling cases like yours. If they have, ask for specific examples of how they were successful.
Moreover, ask any potential defense attorney you want to hire to provide you with a list of past clients who have agreed to speak about the lawyer's services that you can review.
If you are searching for a criminal defense attorney online, ensure they have an updated website that is easy to navigate. Do not hire a lawyer who does not have a company website.
3. Not Consulting with Several Attorneys
You should consult with a few criminal defense attorneys before deciding which one to hire. The consultation will allow you to get a feel of each of the lawyers’ professionalism, expertise, and see if you will work well together.
It is essential to have a good working relationship with your lawyer. They will be fighting for your rights in court, and you need to trust them to do the job very well. If you do not feel comfortable with a lawyer, move on to the next one.
4. Not Understanding Your Attorney's Strategy
Before hiring a lawyer, you should ask them to explain their strategy in your defense case, including what they plan to say in court and the steps they’ll take to win the case.
Do not sign any contracts until you fully understand the lawyer's plan for your case and you are confident in (and comfortable with) it.
It can be challenging to find the right criminal defense attorney to hire. But it is absolutely important that you make the right decisions and find the right one for your case.
Otherwise, you will be risking jail time, hefty fines, and or other penalties if you are charged with a criminal activity and you attempt to fight the charges without the best defense lawyer.