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Do You Need to Hire a Criminal Lawyer? Ask These 7 Questions First

— June 8, 2020

There are often multiple ways to engage the services of legal practice, and you can usually begin with a free consultation.

When it comes to hiring a criminal lawyer, time is of the essence. As well as posing a risk to your personal and professional reputation, the process of facing criminal charges can be highly emotional. During this stressful time, you might feel pressured into securing legal representation quickly. Hiring a criminal lawyer will be one of the most important steps you take, so it is essential to hire the right criminal lawyer for your needs.

Finding the right criminal lawyer involves a range of factors, including availability, fees and charges, and experience in the field. Having an initial conversation with a lawyer can help you determine if they are right for you, and it also allows them to start gathering information about your case.

To find the right lawyer to represent your best interests, start by asking these 7 questions.

Questions for the Practice

1. Is Criminal Law the Primary Focus of Your Practice?

Many legal practices around Australia split their focus into several different areas. This includes property law, family law, personal injury law, and of course, criminal law. Before you engage any legal team, it is essential to make sure they can partner you with dedicated and experienced criminal law professionals.

You may even be able to hire a legal practice that focuses exclusively on criminal law and related legal matters. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that every lawyer on the team has experience with cases like yours.

2. Who Will Be the Lawyer Handling My Case?

Law firms can range from large corporations to small practices. Either way, you want to be talking to a familiar face throughout the whole process.

By asking this question, you can find out if the lawyer interviewing you will also be representing you.  You want to work with the same lawyer from start to finish and you deserve to know their level of seniority within the firm. Getting to know your lawyer from day one also allows you to develop a rapport with them and decide if you are comfortable working with them.

Tiles spelling “Lawyer.” Image by Melinda Gimpel, via
Tiles spelling “Lawyer.” Image by Melinda Gimpel, via

If your lawyer isn’t in the room during your initial meeting, you should meet them as soon as possible.

3. What Are Your Fees, Charges, and Policies Around Money?

When it comes to money, there is more to consider than how expensive your lawyer’s hourly rate is, although this is important, too. Other things you should consider when it comes to costs include:

  • Has your lawyer been transparent when outlining and explaining their costs?
  • Are you aware of all potential added fees that may be associated with your case?
  • Do your lawyer offer flexible payments for their clients?
  • Does your lawyer use a trust account for handling legal fees?

Questions about Your Lawyer

4. What is Your Experience as a Lawyer – and More Specifically a Criminal Lawyer?

When you meet the lawyer who will be handling your case, it’s natural to want to know about their education and experience. You want to know not only how long they have been practicing law, but also how long they have been handling criminal law matters. Many people feel more comfortable working with a lawyer who has more than 10 years of experience.

When determining the experience of your criminal lawyer, look for extra qualifications and accreditations. For example, lawyers can become Accredited Specialists in Criminal Law through the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) and these accreditations can be cross-checked on the LIV website.

Your lawyer should also be surrounded by a strong team of other barristers, solicitors, and forensic professionals.

5. What Types of Courts Do You Have Experience in?

Going to trial can be one of the most nerve-wracking elements of criminal law proceedings. This is the time when you need to have complete confidence in the ability and temperament of your lawyer. Your lawyer should be experienced in a full range of tribunals and courts, ranging from the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court, as well as the Court of Appeal and bodies like VCAT.

6. Do You Have Experience in Cases Like Mine and What Has Been the Outcome?

You can also ask your lawyer specifically about your case. It’s always reassuring to know that your lawyer has handled cases like yours in the past, and they will often be able to show you case studies of similar proceedings.

Of course, every individual’s circumstances are different, but a lawyer’s previous experience with similar cases maybe able to give you some insights. You may gain some understanding of how long your case will run for, what it means to plead guilty or not guilty, and what goes into a successful criminal law defense.

Questions to Ask Yourself

7. Do I Feel Comfortable with This Legal Team?

Choosing a criminal lawyer often involves more than just ticking a series of boxes. At the end of the day, you need to feel confident and comfortable with the lawyer you are working with.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my lawyer compassionate, respectful and supportive?
  • Are they available and ready to listen, even when their services are in high demand?
  • Do they understand my case and help me understand it by speaking in simple terms?
  • Do I feel like my voice is being heard?
  • Do I feel like I’m in safe hands?

Organize a Consultation for More Information

To start asking all these questions and more, organize a consultation with an experienced criminal lawyer. There are often multiple ways to engage the services of legal practice, and you can usually begin with a free consultation. For advice and legal representation, contact a professional criminal lawyer today.

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