If you have been charged with a crime, there is a lot on the line. Not only can the criminal process be challenging and emotionally exhausting, but if you are convicted, you may have to pay large fines and fees, face jail or prison time, and/or be subject to a number of other provisions, such as serving community service or the loss of a professional license.
Also, a criminal record can stay with you for life, making it difficult for you to move forward in gaining employment, housing, or seeking other opportunities. Which is why if you have been charged with a crime, there is no doubt that you should hire a Virginia criminal defense attorney. An attorney can assist you in understanding potential consequences of your charge, how the criminal court system works, what defenses are available to you, and more.
Before you hire just any attorney, though, you should know what characteristics comprise an exceptional criminal attorney. Here’s what to look for.
Experience Handling Cases Like Yours
One of the most important things that you should consider before hiring a criminal attorney is whether the attorney you are considering hiring has experience handling cases like yours. Surely, an attorney who has effectively represented clients charged with drunk driving may be good at what they do, but if you have been charged with a white collar crime, a traffic crime or a violent crime, that attorney may not be the best choice for you.
Not only do you want to work with an attorney who has experience handling cases like yours, but you also want to work with an attorney who has trial experience. If your attorney hasn’t gone to court in the past, you don’t want your criminal trial to be their first practice run.
Effective Case Management Process
When you meet a potential criminal defense lawyer for the first time, you should ask about their case management process. Case management refers to how logistics are handled, and is an important consideration; a lawyer or law firm with an undeveloped case management strategy may be less organized, and therefore less effective when it comes to representing you. Some questions to ask to determine whether your lawyer has an effective case management process in place include:
- Who else will be working on my case?
- Will you be the lawyer representing me if my case goes to trial?
- Who is responsible for gathering evidence?
- Do you work with any experts?
- Who do I call if I have any questions?
- How quickly will your law firm respond to me if I contact you?
You should also ask the attorney what their strategy for your case will look like. An attorney who is interested in getting you to enter a plea bargain without learning the details of your case may not be fully committed to protecting your best interests.
Reputation, References, and Testimonials
Don’t rush into hiring an attorney without learning a little bit about what working with them is like first. You can ask the law firm to provide you with some information regarding any awards, accolades, or recognitions that they have received, as well as whether they have any references or client testimonials they can provide you with. The internet is also a great place to find information about a law firm, as a quick search will often provide information about what working with an attorney is like, their history of success, and recognitions they have received. For example, the Super Lawyers ® website highlights that Attorney Francis McQ. Lawrence has been selected to Super Lawyers ® from 2006-2018, a rating that signifies outstanding legal work.
Work with Our Criminal Defense Law Firm
In addition to the above, your attorney should care about you, and be willing to put in the time and work necessary to secure the best outcome possible for your case. You may be able to determine whether your attorney seems interested in you from the first time you meet them.
At the offices of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP, our experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyers are passionate about what they do. To learn more about our legal services and steps to take if you have been charged with a crime, contact us today for your initial case review, or call us at 434-296-7138.