Questions Every Criminal Defense Lawyer is Asked

If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer, you probably have plenty of questions for potential candidates. You’re not alone; most people who hire lawyers are eager to find out what caliber of legal defence they can expect. Not only that, but there are also plenty of details to discuss like hourly rates, level of experience, etc. For example, someone who wanted to hire a criminal law firm in Calgary might want to ask a few key questions of multiple law firms, and choose the one that seemed like the best fit. Which questions should you ask, though? Here are the most important ones.

Could you provide testimonials from past clients?

Looking through a lawyer’s testimonials is a great way to determine the quality of their services. However, keep in mind that not all lawyers ask their clients for testimonials; just because they can’t provide testimonials doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced or low-quality. Even so, it’s both helpful and reassuring to find a criminal defense lawyer with stellar testimonials.

How many years of experience do you have?

One thing that you should always look for in a criminal defence lawyer is experience; this will have a significant influence on the outcome of the case. Although less experienced lawyers could still be completely qualified for the job, it still makes sense to give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome by hiring a lawyer with many years of experience.

What professional and educational credentials do you have?

In other words, are you formally qualified to do this job? This is another very basic question to ask, and lawyers are typically very open about their credentials. In the case of a criminal defense lawyer, it’s especially crucial to find someone who has excellent professional and educational credentials. It’s also a good idea to ask if they’ve ever been sanctioned for or accused of legal misconduct; your criminal defence lawyer needs to be in good standing with the law.

What is your average success rate?

On the one hand, no lawyer can guarantee a specific outcome. If they do, they’re probably scamming you, or at the very least being dishonest. On the other hand, the better track record a lawyer has, the more likely they are to succeed with your case as well. The proof is in the pudding, after all; it just wouldn’t make sense to choose a criminal defence lawyer who hardly ever produced good outcomes for their clients.

Do you have experience with cases like mine?

It’s great to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer, but you should also ask what kind of experience they have. Each case has its own particular complexities, and it would work in your favor to hire a lawyer who had already navigated similar cases. Not only could this give you a better outcome, but it could also save you time and money.

What are your rates?

The cost of a criminal defense lawyer can vary quite a lot, and you should make sure you find someone who charges a price you’re comfortable with. There’s also the question of how they prefer to be paid – some lawyers charge by the hour, while others charge flat fees. You may need to pay a retainer, or have the option to pay in installments. If you’re talking with someone who charges a flat fee, make sure you know what’s included for that price. Any criminal defense lawyer you speak with should be able to give you a rough estimate, plus describe any additional fees that may be incurred along the way.

What will the pace of communication be like?

If you’re facing criminal charges, you should ideally have a lawyer who’s accessible whenever you need them (within reason). You’ll probably have plenty of questions throughout the process, and you should also expect to get regular updates on how your case is progressing. How often will you need to communicate with your defence lawyer in order to stay confident and comfortable with how things are going? Will they be available by phone, email, or in-office appointments? A good criminal defense lawyer will go the extra mile to guide their client through the entire process, which will require consistent, thorough communication.

What would you need me to do?

For some criminal cases, the defendant is asked to take a back seat – for instance, it would hurt their case if they were caught speaking to witnesses. For other cases, though, they’re expected to provide relevant documents or background information, or even take remedial steps on their own. For example, it might help a drug-related case if the defendant voluntarily underwent treatment before the court ordered it.

How strong do you think my case is?

Even though you can’t expect a guaranteed outcome, an experienced lawyer should be able to evaluate the strength of your case based on their initial assessment. Assuming they have experience in similar cases, they’ll know more or less how your case is likely to play out.

Are there options besides going to trial?

Criminal trials are costly, time-consuming, and stressful – and they can sometimes be avoided. An experienced lawyer will quickly be able to tell whether or not you’d be able to make a plea bargain and avoid a trial.

Will you be handling my case personally?

Many criminal defense lawyers belong to law firms, which also hire paralegals and junior associates. It’s common for some tasks to be delegated to other team members, which can benefit you financially since junior associates charge much lower rates. However, you should make sure that the lawyer you hired is still making the big decisions, and actively overseeing the work that’s being done for your case.

The takeaway

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer will require you to ask the right questions. The good news? Every lawyer with any experience will be ready to answer your inquiries, since this is what they do with all of their prospective clients. By communicating your goals and expectations clearly, you’ll have the best chance of finding a great criminal defense lawyer.

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Posted - 11/07/2023