The real question should be “who is the best lawyer for me, for this kind of charge? Lawyers are in some respects like doctors. You would not want a foot doctor working on your heart. All lawyers go to law school and have to pass a test for minimum qualification, but there expertise and experience in a particular area is something you should be looking for. Do you want a ticket lawyer handling a serious sex charge or serious felony? Most lawyers advertise, but as in all of life, you have to take advertising with a grain of salt. Just because some lawyer may claim he is the best, does not mean he is the right lawyer for you. Here are the things you need to consider:
What was I arrested and charged with?
Are you in State Court or Federal Court? State court covers 90% of most cases. In State Court, it can be either a misdemeanor in County Court or a Felony in Circuit Court. It makes a huge difference because the consequence in Circuit Court are different. State County Court covers things like DUI, petit theft, domestic battery, and other relatively minor offenses.
Does the lawyer have experience in this type of case?
All lawyers are not created equal. Some may have lots of experience at advertising. Some may only try and sign you up and refer you to someone else to handle. Some may tell you what you want to hear to get you to hire them. Some may have little experience actually trying cases. How long has the lawyer practiced here in Lee County? Is he or she going to actually handle your case? How many trials has the lawyer actually handled where he defended someone? Many criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors and that is a great way to learn, but there is a world of difference between prosecuting a case and defending a case. Experience in your particular type of case is a huge factor to consider.
It is important to know the lay of the land and understand the judges and prosecutors where your case is being handled. Does the lawyer have experience in negotiating with the local prosecutors? Has the lawyer been before your judge before? Does the lawyer understand the local policies and procedures?
Sadly, most people struggle to raise enough money to hire a good private lawyer. Getting arrested is a crisis just like a hurricane or some other disaster. A conviction can have terrible consequences. Most people have to rely on relatives and friends to help. Some lawyer charge low fees and are “cheap”. Ask yourself this. Would I want to buy the cheapest parachute or the cheapest life raft? You have to strike a balance between what you can afford and what you need. Free representation with the Public Defender may not be the best choice. If you have a serious illness, with dire consequences, do you want to go to the Public Health Clinic?
Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based on advertising alone and you should have faith in the lawyer you hire just like the faith you have in your doctor. Talk to the lawyer. Does he inspire confidence? Does he have experience? Is he polite or condescending?
Go meet with him and form you own opinion. Is this the person I want standing beside me in Court? Can I trust him with my future?
The bottom line is that some lawyers claim they are the best. Talk is cheap. No good ethical lawyer will ever claim he is the best. The real issue is “Who is the best for me”
Research the lawyer. Check his or her ratings. Some lawyer pay for advertising with national companies and services and ratings are not always accurate.
Bottom line…..Make a well thought out informed decision on who to hire.