If you are looking to hire a criminal attorney, chances are that you are in a difficult situation and need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney quickly. Facing criminal charges, whether minor or a more severe charges, is often a very serious matter with consequences. These may include jail time, creation of a criminal record, monetary fines, loss of future employment opportunities, or more. Therefore, it is often in your best interests to find and hire an experienced and well qualified criminal defense attorney to assist you with your charges. Importantly, the Constitution guarantees you the right to counsel in criminal prosecutions. If you cannot afford an attorney, then the court will appoint one for you. However, if the court decides based on your income and assets that you can afford an attorney, and then you may either hire a private attorney or represent yourself. Criminal defense attorney costs will typically vary based upon various factors. These may include: the severity of the charges that you are facing, the notoriety or experience of the attorney, the complexity of the legal issues in the case, and whether the case goes to trial, to name a few. Thus, it is important when hiring a criminal defense attorney to discuss the attorney’s fees prior to entering into a written contract.
What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
If there is a criminal claim brought against you, you may be faced with criminal penalties, such as fines, jail time, or both. Thus, if you have been charged or are under arrest for suspicion of having committed a crime, it is in your best interests to first consult an experienced attorney before you respond to any criminal prosecution. A qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney will guide you through the entirety of the criminal legal process and help you assert any possible criminal defenses to the charges being brought against you. In most cases where you are seeking a criminal defense attorney, you may have already been arrested, taken into police custody, and booked through the police system. After this, you are typically given a chance to post bail, before an arraignment is held where you are read the criminal charges that are being brought against you. During the arraignment, you will be asked to enter your plea, and should there be no plea bargain, a preliminary hearing will be held where a judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you with a crime. As can be seen, the entire criminal procedure is often very complex, and, thus, it is often in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney will often charge you based on an agreed upon hourly fee or flat fee, as well as bill you any related court costs for defending your case, such as expert witness or investigator fees.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Criminal Attorney?
As noted above, the costs of criminal defense lawyers vary, as no criminal case is identical to another. There are several factors that can affect the overall costs of a criminal case, including:
• Defendant’s Income: Your income determines whether you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney, or whether you need to hire your own attorney. Each jurisdiction may have different qualifications to determine if someone can afford to hire their own attorney. If an individual qualifies based on their income, then the court will appoint a public defender paid for by the government, as guaranteed by the Constitution;
• Investigation and Experts: As mentioned above, many criminal cases have complex issues that can require investigators and/or expert witnesses. For example, a defense attorney might hire an expert in chemical testing to contest or explain the results of a BAC analysis in a DUI trial, or a psychologist if the defendant wants to claim the defense of legal insanity. Investigators and experts require on average a retainer of $2,000 and can charge over $300/hr. Thus, based on the particular circumstances of your criminal charges, there may be extra fees needed to form a stronger defense; or
• Attorney’s Fees: As mentioned above, criminal defense attorneys do not all cost a fixed amount of money. Attorney’s fees will vary according to several factors. Some of the more important factors affecting an attorney’s rate include:
The skill of the attorney;
The experience of the attorney;
The seriousness of the offense;
The complexity of the legal issues in the case;
The amount of time spent by the attorney in the criminal discovery process;
The delegation of tasks to law clerks or paralegals;
Whether the case goes to trial; and
Whether the attorney charges a flat fee or by the hour.
Even if you wish to plead guilty or represent yourself “pro se,” it is extremely important to first consult an experienced attorney before you respond to any criminal prosecution. At a minimum, a criminal defense attorney will ensure that the charges brought against you are appropriate, given the facts of the case and advocate on your behalf to receive the lowest possible penalty. The criminal procedure process is a complex matter, and the nuances of the differences of criminal charges are even more complex. For example, suppose that a person is caught leaving a jewelry store with a $100 necklace. The shop owner, furious over the incident, tells the police it was a $1,000 necklace. The difference between the values is the difference between petty theft, which carries a misdemeanor charge, and grand theft which carries a felony charge. While a person has the right to proceed in their own defense, even experienced criminal lawyers will admit to not wanting to defend themselves.
Reasons to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
• They Understand the Judicial System: The first and often most important reason to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney is that they understand how the judicial system works. The legal system can be confusing, even for people who work in it every day, but an experienced defense lawyer knows the intricate workings of the court systems and can help guide you through the process based on your individual case.
• They Have Built Relationships with Prosecutors: After working in the legal field for long periods of time, defense attorneys begin to develop relationships with their counterparts prosecuting attorneys. While it may seem odd to develop a positive relationship with an adversary, both parties understand that everyone has a better experience when people are familiar with each other. Having an attorney who has developed a good relationship with your prosecuting attorney can prove vital in the outcome of your case. Their relationship may allow them to negotiate a better plea deal or negotiate an affordable bond.
• They Have Dealt with Cases Similar to Yours Before: Not all attorneys are built the same. While all attorneys passed law school and the state bar to practice in the jurisdiction, different attorneys have different specialties.
• They Can Protect Your Future: An experienced criminal defense attorney can fight for you and your future. A good attorney may be able to get your charges reduced; your penalties lessened, or even get your case dismissed due to police errors while illegally obtaining evidence against you. By reducing your charges, they can keep a felony off your criminal record and keep you from jeopardizing your career. By reducing your possible penalties, they can keep you from jail and help you avoid losing your job. By getting your case dismissed they can save you from any negative impact that a criminal conviction could have had on your life.
• They Can Save You Money: It’s counterintuitive to think a more expensive lawyer will save you money, but history has shown that spending the additional money for an experienced criminal defense lawyer is almost always worth it. They can help you receive the best possible sentencing for your case, which could help you keep your job or keep you from losing your professional license. How many months of income would you lose if you lost your job tomorrow? How many years of viable earning potential would be destroyed if you are stripped of a professional license? Even without being fired, missing work for jail or extended court may cause a financial strain that could be avoided.
• They Can Assess Law Enforcements Conduct: No amount of observation through TV, media, or Facebook, can help the average person really understand the actual legal limits of what law enforcement can do when obtaining evidence in a criminal case. Good criminal defense lawyers spend years learning the nuances of proper procedure and identifying the blind spots and loopholes. They know what police officers are allowed to do when investigating a client, and can look at every possible means by which the officers may have infringed upon the rights of the accused. If the evidence gathering was improper, the lawyer can get the evidence thrown out of your case and this can often lead to dismissals.
• They Can Advise You on the Possible Outcomes: Some criminal attorneys will paint a bright picture of how they can help you in their case. They will assure you that nothing negative will happen once you go to court. Then suddenly you are convicted of a felony and facing 5 years in jail. The attorney assured you it wouldn’t happen, but it did because you simply trusted the system would work itself out and your innocence would be proven.
Tips to Help You Find the Best Criminal Attorney
• An Attorney Should Be Responsive: When you’re facing a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Time lost is a case lost. You need a criminal defense attorney that’s going to get to work on the case right away. When you contact a lawyer, they should respond quickly. Their legal team should be able to arrange a meeting with you within one day. If they’re quick to answer to your phone call or email, they’re probably going to be equally on the ball when it comes to defending you.
• The Right Attorney Specializes in Criminal Law: Although they don’t have to practice criminal law exclusively, the right attorney at least specializes in criminal law. If you don’t see anything on the attorney’s website about criminal law, it’s likely that they’re not the right lawyer for your needs. Your attorney needs regular involvement in criminal law to stay up to date on the nuances of this type of law and the best possible defenses.
• Choose Someone Experienced in the Local Courts: In addition to finding a lawyer that’s qualified in criminal law, you should look for an attorney that’s experienced in the local courts. This aspect of deciding on the right attorney is one that is often overlooked, but local connections and relationships can go a long way when fighting a criminal charge. Not only does each court do things their own way, but each judge does things their own way too. Knowing the ins and outs of the court you’re up against can help you create a winning strategy for your case.
• Ask for Referrals: One of the best ways to find the right attorney for you is asking your friends and family if they know any good lawyers. Those with first-hand knowledge of how an attorney operates can help offer you insight into how they will handle your case. Also, if you use a lawyer for business or estate planning matters, you can ask them who they recommend for a criminal case.
• Look for a Clear Fee Structure: The best defense attorney doesn’t want confusion about their bill. Instead, they’re going to explain in simple terms how they bill and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding their fees for services and the total cost of your defense. The least expensive lawyer isn’t always best. Instead, you should ask what their services include and make sure that your attorney is up for mounting a vigorous defense.
• Gauge Their Enthusiasm: Some attorneys work harder than others. You will want a lawyer that conducts a thorough investigation. They should go to trial when it’s best to go to trial, and they should encourage you to accept a plea offer only when it’s really in your best interest. When it’s time to decide whether to go to trial or accept a plea, the right attorney can articulate what choice they feel is in your best interest and why. The way to find this attorney is to look for enthusiasm. While your attorney should be experienced, the number of years of experience isn’t everything. The right attorney has a certain level of sincere interest in their work, and they must be eager to dive into your case on your behalf.
• They Have Courtroom Confidence: One type of experience that matters is courtroom experience. Criminal trials move fast. Sometimes, your attorney has mere seconds to make an objection that could impact the outcome of the case. Make sure your attorney has enough experience to know the court rules and have confidence and comfort in a court hearing. In this regard, you can judge a book by its cover. If an attorney has a neat appearance and is well spoken when you meet with them, they’re likely to be the same way in court. The attorney you choose speaks on your behalf. When you meet, you should like the way they present themselves, because they’re going to be speaking for you.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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