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Written by Attorney Seth Morris


Having an experienced criminal defense attorney could make all the difference in your case when facing criminal charges. And while public defenders are a cost-effective option, they are often overloaded and unable to give defendants the attention they deserve.

However, private criminal defense attorneys are not all created equal. You’ll want to ensure you’re getting the best representation possible.

To that end, here are some questions to ask prospective criminal defense attorneys during your initial consultation. How they respond should provide insight into what it will be like working with them and, most notably, their ability to secure a favorable outcome in your case.

1. How long have you practiced criminal law?

One of the first questions you should ask a potential criminal defense attorney is how long they have been practicing. Having a lawyer with significant criminal law experience is essential.

Not only will an attorney with a long track record of dismissals, jury verdicts, and charge reductions have handled numerous cases, but also likely have long-standing relationships with prosecuting attorneys, police officers, and other court officials that could directly benefit your case.

2. How would you approach my case?

Discussing your attorney’s potential approach to your case is important. It could be a red flag if they immediately suggest a plea deal. While accepting a plea is a good option in some cases, you do not want to be bullied into accepting a plea bargain if you are innocent. Also, preparing a case for trial may offer you an advantage in negotiating better plea terms. How you proceed will ultimately depend on the facts and details of your case, but you should be confident in your attorney’s capabilities and defense strategy.

3. What is this going to cost?

Unlike personal injury lawyers, criminal defense attorneys do not typically work on contingency agreements. Instead, they may charge a flat fee for their representation. Although some attorneys may charge an hourly rate, a flat fee can give you a better idea of where your costs are going and the effort your attorney is putting into your case.

4. What are my options?

Speaking with your potential attorney about what outcomes you can expect is essential. You deserve to know what you’re up against and what you can realistically expect. If it’s your first offense, your situation may be less severe than you thought. Additionally, you might have initially thought you could obtain a favorable plea, but you may discover later that you do not qualify. Your attorney can give you a better idea of what defense options could work best in challenging the charges against you.

5. Do you solely practice criminal law?

Some law firms have experience in multiple areas of the law. For example, some attorneys practice bankruptcy law, personal injury law, and criminal defense. Suppose you choose to work with an attorney who only practices criminal law. In that case, you are choosing a lawyer who has considerable experience in their field, given that their attention has been devoted exclusively to refining the art of criminal defense.

6. Will we communicate regularly?

You want to be sure that you can communicate with your attorney as needed. You should be able to trust that your attorney will notify you immediately or as soon as possible when a plea offer comes in.

In criminal defense cases, prompt communication with your lawyer is essential — your freedom and livelihood may be on the line.

7. Will you personally handle my case?

Find out whether your attorney works alone or with a team. Many criminal defense lawyers who have a team of paralegals and junior associates working with them can benefit your case. Other times, things can get lost in the shuffle, and your case suffers.

When facing criminal charges, you should know who’s involved and their role in your defense strategy.

8. How long will my case take?

It is usually impossible to tell how long a criminal case will take to resolve during your initial consult. There are a lot of factors to consider, but your criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a general idea of what you can expect. Once your lawyer has a chance to review the details of your case, the charges, potential penalties, and your options, they can give a more accurate assessment and their professional legal advice.

9. Why should I hire you?

Asking your potential criminal defense attorney why you should hire them could help you determine whether they are the right fit for you. Their answer should help you feel more confident in their ability to defend you in court and protect your future.

10. Have you had experience with a case like mine?

Criminal law encompasses a wide array of offenses, including DUIs, violent crimes, drug crimes, sex crimes, white-collar crimes, and more. When a potential criminal defense attorney has the experience and prior success in cases like yours, they likely know what works and what doesn’t. You may feel more confident in relying on their legal defense.

Contact Morris Law for Help

If you aren’t satisfied with a potential criminal defense lawyer’s answer to these questions, they probably aren’t the attorney for you.

When you’re ready to address criminal charges and set up a free initial consultation with an aggressive and experienced Oakland, CA, criminal defense lawyer, contact Morris Law.

Call 510-225-9955 or submit a request online.