Did you know that there are more than 1.35 million lawyers in the US? This is a lot of professionals to choose from when the time comes to defend your name in a court of law. But do you know how to spot the good from the bad?
If not, then there are a number of warning signs to look out for. Be sure to read on as we discuss seven red flags to spot when hiring a criminal defense attorney.
1. Unclear Billing
Lawyers have different methods in which they charge people. Some prefer to charge by the hours they work. Others may decide to give an estimation of their labor for the whole project, then create a fee based on this.
Both of these methods of billing have pros and cons, both for the client and the lawyer. For example, how is someone supposed to know how much a project will cost if it has not yet been undertaken? Or when billing hourly, how do you know the lawyer is not just adding fees on?
The truth is that while methods may be different, the clarity a lawyer gives when billing does not have to be. Ask them to see a sample of a bill. Check through it to see how understandable it is before taking them on.
You are looking for any billing of time that is not clearly stated. This is known as ‘padding’ time. The lawyer may not be able to tell you what it was designated for specifically because they don’t actually know.
After this, look for expenses and surcharges. You should not be charged for anything that is classed as business overhead.
2. Deadline Pushing
Any criminal defense lawyer is under a lot of pressure to perform. However, pushing deadlines is a warning sign that your lawyer is either struggling, has too much work on, or is not making your case as important as others.
Any deadlines are in place for a reason. If missed, work mounts up and this means it usually gets done in a hurried, half-baked way. If you hire a lawyer that seems to be in this position, then it is time to go elsewhere.
3. Poor Communication
There is no excuse for poor communication. In the digital age, we have a number of methods to communicate with each other and businesses. The best criminal defense attorney should be utilizing these avenues.
That is not to say that an old-fashioned phone call is not useful. However, if you are calling an attorney to get a string of missed calls that never get replied to, then communication is not a priority for this lawyer. Even a call back with an appointment time is better than nothing.
When hiring a lawyer, ask how they prefer to be reached. They may give you a personal mobile number, or an email they use during work hours. Visit here for more information if you are looking for an attorney who will make the communication easier.
4. Not Providing Valid References
Any half-decent criminal defense lawyer should be able to provide references. These are credible proof of past experiences. You need to be aiming for references that show experience in cases similar to your own.
When you have these references, ask them to discuss the referenced case with you. Ask them what problems they encountered and how they overcame them. All of this will give you a much better understanding of how they operate.
5. A Lack of Interest
When choosing a lawyer, you need someone that sympathizes and understands your situation. Their job is to convince a jury of your innocence. If they seem disinterested in you, then this will show in a court of law and in the evidence they have prepared.
Part of this comes down to forming a personal connection with the lawyer. If you don’t have a strong relationship, then they must fail to understand you as a person. This could lead to conflict later down the line.
The opposite of this, and arguably just as worse, is a lawyer that shows overconfidence. A good attorney should always have the specter of loss at their back to keep them on their toes. If not, an overconfident attitude can lead to them preparing weak cases and overlooking vital facts.
A lawyer should listen to your case, and be able to give a rough outline immediately. Soon after that, they will flesh out the details once they have done some research and understand the case a little better. As the case develops, more detail shall be added.
In addition to this, they should be able to give you a number of options, stating pros and cons, and which one they think is the most beneficial using their experience. If they are indecisive and try to leave the decision solely to you, then they are not giving their experience. This is what you are paying for.
Make sure they have a plan throughout the process. While the course of action is ultimately dictated by you, they should be guiding you, telling you the best methods in their experience.
7. Unethical Actions
When a lawyer or defendant breaks the law to secure a case, this is known as perjury. It faces its own charge but will be extremely damaging to your own case. It is essentially an admission of guilt that you have tried to cover up.
However, there are a number of standards lawyers must adhere to that don’t break the law. They are just indicators of professionalism. These can include everything from conflict of interests or not filing papers on time.
If your lawyer seems to be conducting any of these activities, then move on. It could cost you your freedom.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Now you know how to find a great criminal defense attorney and weed out the poor ones, you can begin defending your case. Remember that you are paying for the experience of the lawyer as much as their time. Now you have found a great one, trust them.
Your first stop for criminal defense should be Jarret Maillet. With over ten years of experience, we have a great panel of former prosecutors turned defense attorneys.