If you had your way, I bet that hiring a criminal attorney is not something you’d put on your ‘to do list.’ Unfortunately, things happen and you can easily find yourself in a predicament where you need to find the best criminal defense attorney in your area. But, during this very stressful period, it’s easy to overlook some key things that would ultimately compromise your case. Despite the pressure and the overwhelming experience, it’s important to make the right decisions regarding your case.

Finding an experienced attorney should be your first priority. That’s because they will be your last line of defense. A good one could potentially save you from serving a long jail sentence, paying a huge fine or some other serious repercussions.

So how do you know that you have made the right choice for your case? Among the myriad of lawyers all promising to ‘get you out of this’; it can be quite daunting to know which one should represent you in court. So here are 5 tips that can help you get the best criminal defense attorney to steer your case in the right direction:

  1. Find the Right Specialist

Criminal law is a vast and very detailed field. When picking a criminal defense attorney, you need to ensure that they are familiar with all the legal nuances of your case. While looking around, ensure that you ask specific questions that will provide insight on the attorney’s experience with other cases of the same nature. Go even deeper and ask about the outcome of each case. It is very easy to come across lawyers who claim to specialize in criminal defense cases, yet they have only handled very few criminal cases in the course of their practice. Remember that your freedom is on the line, so you must maximize your chances of success by picking an attorney that has a great track record.

  1. Check Client Feedback and Ratings

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As you would do with any other service, take a look at what any past clients have to say about your prospective attorney. After all, the best way to know what to expect from them is by looking at how they have handled other cases in the past. Many attorneys have dedicated a significant amount of money to marketing their services and displaying only the positives. Don’t make a decision without doing your due diligence and finding out what the attorney has in store for you.  Ensure that the attorney is ethical and knowledgeable by looking at references, reviews, and feedback from legal rating sites and other sources.

  1. Does The Attorney Have Experience in the Local Courts?

The attorney that is representing you needs to have adequate experience in dealing with the local DA’s office, the judges and other integral arms of the local legal system. It isn’t unusual for some judges to be more lenient or open to certain requested conditions – but only if they have worked with an attorney before. This familiarity with the court will enable your attorney to know how to present your case to certain judges based on previous encounters.

  1. Communication is Key

Nothing is more important than the communication between you and your attorney. A breakdown in this can have serious implications on your case. Make sure that the attorney you pick keeps an open line of communication while respecting the ethical aspect of his or her job. You should be able to ask questions freely and get an honest response that won’t jeopardize your case. If your attorney is not responsive, or if you feel that you can’t trust him or her, move on the next option. Poor communication will only set your case up for failure.

  1. Ask About Billing

While it may feel like there are other more important things to worry about at this point, you should ensure that you have this information laid out to you before anything else. Some attorneys want to be paid via retainers, while others prefer to bill a fixed amount, an hourly rate or even a custom-made billing plan. Just ensure that you understand what the attorney expects financially and the scope of coverage so that you don’t feel ambushed in the end.