Tips on how to find the right lawyer to handle your criminal case.
Many defendants facing criminal charges are not in custody at the time they seek to hire an attorney. Either the police issue them a citation and a court date and never take them to jail, or they bail out of jail on their own, without first hiring an attorney.
Finding a Lawyer When You're in Jail:
It may be difficult to find and hire a competent lawyer while in jail. The atmosphere is usually psychologically oppressive, a defendant can’t comparison-shop, and the police and other defendants are notoriously poor judges of lawyers’ competence. There's a monetary constraint, too: Criminal defense lawyers often want the bulk of their money up front, which means that you will have to come up with some cash in fairly short order. Because jailed defendants usually have no money, they have to find family members or friends who will put up the money.
If an arrested suspect has previously been satisfactorily represented by a criminal defense lawyer, that is usually the lawyer whom the suspect should call. But how should other arrested suspects proceed? Probably the most fruitful approach is to get a referral from one or more of the following sources:
Civil practitioners: Defendants who know an attorney in civil practice can ask that attorney to recommend a criminal defense lawyer. (Some civil practitioners, of course, are also competent to represent clients in criminal matters, at least for the limited purpose of arranging for release from jail following an arrest.)
Family members or friends. These people may either know of a criminal defense lawyer or at least have the time to pursue additional reference sources, such as family clergy, doctors, or other professionals.
Bail bond sellers. Bondsmen are usually in regular contact with private defense lawyers.
Finding a Lawyer When You're Not in Custody. Like defendants who are in custody, defendants who are not in jail can seek referrals from civil lawyers, friends and relatives, and bail bond sellers. However, nonjailed defendants have additional options. The additional sources include: A local bar association’s lawyer referral panel. Attorneys are usually recommended according to their experience and the type and seriousness of a criminal charge.
* Neither Stokes McCune offer legal advice and this piece is for information which may be helpful when you need to find a criminal defense attorney.