No matter what option you choose, there is always some risk involved in any criminal case.
After being arrested and charged with a crime, it can be difficult to look towards the future with confidence while facing the potential of jail time, felonies on your criminal record, and all of the complications of a conviction. However, it’s important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty and that a private criminal defense attorney can help you navigate this process and leverage the complexity of your state’s body of laws to your advantage.
The first step is to sit with an attorney for a free consultation where you can go through all of the details of your case before better understanding how the lawyer can help you move forward. It’s important to come prepared for your initial consultation, as this is your chance to get to know the attorney and ask any questions that you may have about their representation.
To help you prepare, we spoke with the team at Weber Law to gather some important questions to ask when meeting with a criminal defense attorney for the first time.
What is your experience with criminal defense?
When it comes to finding a qualified criminal defense lawyer, their experience should be one of your top considerations. You want an attorney who has a track record of success in court and is familiar with the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in your state. Sure, there are plenty of new lawyers who are highly competent, but you won’t have their track record to boost your confidence.
How much will this cost?
While the cost of hiring a private attorney is often higher than using a public defender, it’s important to remember that you are entitled to quality representation regardless of your financial situation. Don’t be afraid to ask about payment options or whether the lawyer is willing to work with you on a payment plan. In addition, be sure to ask about any additional costs that may be associated with your case, such as expert witnesses or investigators.
What are my options for defense?
Your attorney should lay out all of the different potential paths forward for your case, including pleading guilty, going to trial, or negotiating a plea deal. They should also be able to explain the pros and cons of each option so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
What are the risks of each available option?
No matter what option you choose, there is always some risk involved in any criminal case. However, your attorney should be able to help you understand the risks associated with each option and how likely it is that you will experience negative consequences.
What are the possible defenses in my case?
A variety of potential defenses can be raised in any criminal case, and your attorney should be familiar with the ones that may apply to your situation. In some cases, it may be possible to get the charges against you dropped entirely if there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, it may be possible to reduce the charges or receive a more lenient sentence by raising defenses such as self-defense or duress.
What is the likely sentence if I am convicted?
This question is closely related to the previous question. Your attorney should be able to give you a pretty good idea of what the likely sentence would be if you are convicted. This will help you to make an informed decision about whether or not to go to trial or take a plea deal. Some convictions have mandatory minimums, others may have enhancements if there are additional charges appended to your case, and previous convictions on your record can also inform sentencing guidelines.