How Do You Interview a Prospective Criminal Defense Lawyer?
You need a criminal defense lawyer for yourself or a family member. You have gone on the internet and done a Google search for Criminal Defense Lawyer. You have waded through the results which include a long list of lawyers, all of whom have impressive websites. Learn more about finding a criminal defense Lawyer on the internet.
You find a criminal defense lawyer who appears to have the right combination of experience and case results. Now you are faced with the challenge of interviewing that lawyer over the phone. Your goal is to see if what you hear from that lawyer is consistent with what you read about them on the internet.
What Is the Most Important Quality You are Looking for in a Defense Lawyer?
The single most important quality in a defense lawyer is judgment. By judgment I mean the lawyer’s capacity to size up the case, the client, the jurisdiction, and the opposition. The lawyer’s judgment should be the product of substantial experience combined with talent. Excellent defense lawyers have a trajectory to their careers. They spend years developing the basics of being criminal law attorneys. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer has spent thousands of hours learning how to communicate effectively with clients, negotiate with the prosecution, investigate cases, and argue in a courtroom.
What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer Over the Phone?
Your goal in a telephone interview is to find out the defense lawyer’s level of experience, and determine if the lawyer handles the kind of case you are facing. You will also be assessing the lawyer’s communication skills as he or she responds to your questions. It is important to find out exactly how the prospective defense lawyer has arrived at the point where he or she has a high level of expertise in criminal defense. The vast majority of criminal defense lawyers will have spent a number of years in either a public defender system or will have worked as a prosecutor in a district attorney office. It is incredibly difficult to develop the skill level required to handle serious criminal cases without having the experience that comes with dedicating a number of years to working in a public defender system or in a district attorney’s office.
What are the different types of cases that a Criminal Defense Lawyer Handles?
The major dividing line in criminal prosecutions in Colorado is between state court cases and federal court cases. The vast majority of criminal cases in Colorado are filed in state court. The state court criminal filings are generally divided between county court and district court. The county court has jurisdiction over major traffic offenses and less serious criminal accusations. District courts in Colorado deal with felony cases that are brought by a district attorney’s office.
Federal cases are heard primarily in the Federal District Court in Denver, Colorado. The federal criminal system is incredibly complicated and very, very different from the state system. If your case involves a federal criminal investigation, it is crucial that you find out if the criminal defense lawyer you are interviewing practices regularly in federal district court.
How Do You Assess the Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Communication Skills?
A criminal defense lawyer’s stock in trade is his or her emotion intelligence and the ability to communicate effectively. When you call a prospective lawyer to represent you or your family member, that lawyer should answer all of your questions with clarity. That lawyer should describe in detail how the process works. The lawyer’s communication style should be free of legal jargon and should also highlight those factors that cannot be known until the case proceeds in the system. You must remember that during this first interview the lawyer is literally flying blind. That lawyer has not seen any police reports and does not know the client’s criminal history. You should be wary of lawyers who make promises regarding what result they can obtain in a case without knowledge of all the allegations and the criminal history of the defendant. That is particularly true in any case that alleges an act of violence. The Colorado criminal code is filled with criminal charges that carry mandatory prison sentences. Those mandatory prison sentences are often triggered by allegations of physical force.
Is It Important to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer as Soon As You Are Charged?
The major advantage of hiring a criminal defense lawyer at the beginning of your case is that he or she can determine if any steps need to be taken immediately to improve the chances of a good outcome. There may be witnesses to events who were not interviewed by the police. Witnesses may be willing to cooperate with a defense investigator shortly after an event when their memories are the sharpest. In vehicular assault and vehicular homicide cases it may be important to obtain experts in accident reconstruction. Those experts can go out to the scene when roadway evidence may still be visible. There may be video evidence from surveillance cameras in the area that was overlooked by the investigating officers. The bottom line is that the investigation of a criminal case needs to begin as soon as possible after the events occur.