There are many things to consider when hiring a Florida criminal attorney. The following is a list of some (but by no means all) of the things that you should consider when hiring a criminal lawyer in the State of Florida:
- Be certain that the attorney you intend to hire actually handles criminal cases. Don’t hire your divorce lawyer or the lawyer who drew up your will to handle your criminal case. You wouldn’t hire a brain surgeon to operate on your heart would you? Because criminal defense is a specialized field of law, you need to hire a lawyer who specializes in this particular field.
- Be certain that the Florida criminal lawyer you intend to hire handles the particular type of criminal case that you have. If you are charged with murder, don’t hire a lawyer who does only drunk-driving cases. Find a lawyer instead who has experience handling murder cases. Or if you are charged with a federal crime, don’t hire a Florida lawyer who handles crimes only in state court. Find a lawyer instead who has experience handling federal cases.
- Be certain that the Florida criminal lawyer you intend to hire has a lot of experience handling your particular type of case. For example, even if the lawyer you intend to hire handles nothing but drunk-driving cases, did he or she graduate from law school three months ago and therefore has very little actual experience handling such cases?
- Avoid hiring a Florida criminal attorney who promises you a specific outcome. It is impossible for a lawyer whom you have just met and who knows nothing about your case except what you have told him to tell you how your case will turn out with any degree of certainty.
- If your goal is to resolve your case without a trial, you may not need to hire the best criminal trial lawyer in town. You may want to look instead for someone who has experience successfully negotiating your particular type of criminal case. On the other hand, if you definitely want to have a trial, be sure that the Florida criminal attorney you hire has significant experience trying cases and is not simply an “office” lawyer.
- If you are hiring a specific Florida criminal lawyer to work on your case, make sure that that specific lawyer and not one of her associates is the lawyer who will actually be working on your case and going to court with you.
- Hire a Florida criminal attorney whom you feel comfortable working with after meeting him and discussing your case. Don’t hire a lawyer who is pressuring you to go to trial if your goal is to strike a satisfactory deal with the prosecutor as soon as possible. On the other hand, don’t hire a lawyer who is pressuring you to take a plea bargain if what you really want is a trial.
- Be sure that the Florida criminal lawyer you intend to hire has time to work on your case. If the lawyer you intend to hire is starting a month-long federal trial next week, he may not be the criminal lawyer best suited to represent you if your case requires a lot of work and your trial date is fast approaching.
- Be certain that the Florida criminal attorney you intend to hire has a support staff that can adequately handle your case. Does the lawyer have, for example, a secretary, an investigator, a paralegal, and access to expert witnesses that may be needed in order to properly represent you at trial? If not, you may want to look for another lawyer.
- If the Florida criminal lawyer you intend to hire is quoting you a fee that is a lot more or a lot less than the going rate, ask yourself why. If the fee being quoted is a lot more than the going rate, is it because the lawyer is that much better than her competitors? If she is not that much better, than why should you pay that fee? On the other hand, if the fee being quoted is a lot less than the going rate, is it because the lawyer is just starting out and has little experience handling your particular type of criminal case? If so, you may want to look for another lawyer.
Ronald Chapman has been representing people accused of committing crimes in the State of Florida since 1990. You can read more about Mr. Chapman’s experience as a Florida criminal attorney, his services, and news articles about some of his cases on his blog at JusticeFlorida.com.