What are some important questions to ask a prospective criminal defense attorney?
A good place to start when interviewing different criminal defense attorneys is with their educational background. You will want to know how long they have been practicing in the area. It is important to note how much of their practice is devoted to criminal defense, or if they specialize in it. You may want to know their success rate, and if they have handled a case like yours in the past. Just because your prospective attorney has been practicing for a while, does not mean that they have handled every type of case. You may inquire whether they have any testimonials from past clients you can have access to, or if they would be willing to allow you to speak with some of their past clients.
I am going to relay a story to you, as it relates to one of the most important and often overlooked questions you should be asking.
A while back, I was speaking with a client in a hallway between two courtrooms, we were standing in the middle. There were several other defense attorneys about, conversing with their clients. My client and I had just finished talking and we're about to head into the courtroom when I couldn't help but overhear a conversation between an attorney and his client. The attorney was saying something to the effect of, “Mr. Smith, I'll do whatever you want me to do. I know that you maintain your innocence. I will do whatever you want me to, but I am not going to trial.” Essentially, this attorney told his client he would do everything except go to trial. He even went on to say that if the client insisted on going to trial, he should get another lawyer. The overlooked question is this: if this case goes to trial, are you willing and prepared to go to trial with it?
It may come as a surprise that the last thing some attorneys want to do is to get in front of a jury. There are a lot of attorneys who are just plea machines, meaning they crank out plea after plea. What if you do not wish to take a plea because you maintain your innocence? If you have hired a lawyer like the one from the example above, you will have a problem.
In your list of questions, be sure to not make any assumptions. My name is Corey Scott. If I can be of any further assistance, give me a call. I will be more than happy to help.