Facing criminal charges is often a daunting and overwhelming experience. Time is of the essence. You may not know what to do or even where to begin, but having the support and guidance of a seasoned criminal lawyer can make all of the difference in your case’s process and outcome. While having a criminal defense attorney by your side will likely help your case, not every lawyer is the best fit for you or your situation. In order to find the best criminal lawyer for you and your case, it is crucial to know what the right questions to ask are. To help you navigate the confusing environment of criminal law, here are a few questions to ask before hiring a criminal lawyer.
A San Jose criminal defense attorney who has handled multiple cases that are comparable to yours is able to predict potential logistical challenges and legal issues, has potentially built a rapport with the judge that will be overseeing your case, and possesses a strong understanding of the charges you face. In turn, this experience will save you time and money, while also increasing the probability of you obtaining a favorable outcome. Additionally, you will also want to inquire about your potential criminal defense attorney’s success rate and the results of these cases. Although ensuring that your lawyer has handled similar cases previously is a good start, it is important to learn whether your attorney has been able to provide their clients with positive outcomes. Also, ask your attorney to present you with testimonials from clients. Testimonials give you the unfiltered opinions of previous clients. If the attorney you are considering does not have any client testimonials or declines to share them with you, further inquire as to why.
Although it may seem obvious, many people often forget to ask how they will be charged and how much they will be charged until it is time for them to sign their fee agreement. During your initial consultation, be candid and inquire about all of the potential expenses and how the attorney’s legal fees are structured. There are a few ways that a criminal defense attorney may structure their legal fees.
● Contingency fee. In a contingency fee agreement, a lawyer will receive a percentage of the monetary amount their client receives. Effectively, the lawyer will only receive compensation if they have represented their client successfully. This fee structure is not common in criminal cases.
● Flat fee. As the name may allude, a flat fee agreement results in the lawyer charging a specific total fee. Flat fees are common in criminal cases but usually are only reserved for relatively simple or routine cases.
● Hourly fee. Under an hourly fee structure, the criminal defense attorney will charge you at a specific rate for every hour or portion of the hour that they work on your case. For example, if the lawyer’s fee is $100 per hour and the lawyer works on your case for 4 hours, the fee that you would owe is $400. Hourly fees are among the most common legal fee structures for criminal cases.
In addition to the attorney's legal fees, ask if there are any other fees you may be charged for, particularly if the case were to go to trial.