16 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer

| Jun 11, 2021 | Uncategorized

By:
Phoenix Criminal Lawyers
The Baker Law Firm, LLC

Are you facing criminal charges and need the help of a Criminal Lawyer in Phoenix? 

Choosing the right criminal lawyer in Phoenix can be the difference between your freedom and a lifetime of legal issues. The stakes could not be higher. 

The best defense attorneys in Phoenix are not advertised on billboards or TV and they may not be the best criminal lawyer for you or your situation.

Consequently, it’s vitally important for you to ask the right questions to decide if the Phoenix defense attorney you’re thinking of hiring is really the best defense attorney to assist you in securing the best possible outcome. 

Here are 16 questions to ask when interviewing a Phoenix criminal lawyer to represent you:

1. How long have you been a Criminal Lawyer in Phoenix? 

When it comes to defending you in a criminal case, experience is key. 

The benefits are obvious for choosing an experienced criminal defense attorney. You’ll want a defense attorney who’s practiced for many years and has a solid record of successfully defending a large number of clients charged with what you’re being accused of. 

An experienced defense attorney also knows to advise you on what to expect throughout all different stages of the legal process. Experience also allows your criminal defense attorney to anticipate the tactics or actions of the prosecution and be prepared to negate them. 

It is important that your defense attorney not only has years of experience, but also the right kind of experience and depth of knowledge of the crime you are accused of. 

For example, a lot of criminal lawyers in Phoenix do other types of legal work in addition to defending clients in criminal cases. You’ll want to ensure that the defense attorney you choose is the best criminal defense law lawyer in Phoenix you can hire and he/she can give your case their full attention. 

2. What are your educational and professional credentials?

Just like when you’re hiring someone for a job, you want to find out if your criminal defense attorney has solid educational and professional credentials. 

Don’t be intimidated! 

It’s perfectly ok to ask questions like, “What law school did you graduate from?” and “Which bar associations and professional organizations are you a member of?”. 

Also, you will want to ask if your potential defense attorney in Phoenix has ever been accused of or sanctioned for attorney misconduct. It’s important to find this out up front. You definitely want a Phoenix criminal defense attorney to be in good standing within the legal system.

3. Have you handled criminal cases like mine before?

It is not only important to find a defense attorney in Phoenix who has years of experience, but it’s equally important to find one who is knowledgeable about the criminal charges you face. A criminal defense attorney who has experience handling clients facing similar charges can save you a lot of time and most likely obtain a better outcome for you. 

For example, if you are accused of any of the following you should interview: 

  • For sex crimes, the best Phoenix sex crimes defense attorney 
    • Or the best Phoenix criminal lawyers for 
      • sexual assault
      •  sexual abuse
      •  child pornography
      •  prostitution
      • luring a minor
      • rape
      • child molestation 
  • For drug crimes, the best drug crimes defense lawyer in Phoenix 
    • Or Phoenix criminal lawyers for 
      • Drug Possession 
      • Distribution and trafficking
      •  Prescription fraud
      • Drug Manufacturing
  • For theft crimes, the best theft crimes defense lawyer in Phoenix 
    • Or Phoenix criminal lawyers for 
      • Shoplifting and petty theft
      • Criminal fraud and white collar crimes
      • Embezzlement and employee theft
      • Identity theft and credit card fraud
      • Auto theft and motorcycle theft
      • Robbery, armed robbery and burglary
      • Petty larceny and grand larceny
      • Writing bad checks

4. What is your success rate?

Ensuring that your attorney has experience with clients in situations similar to yours is a good start, but you also want an attorney who is more  likely to find you a successful outcome than other Phoenix criminal lawyers. While every case and every client is unique, you want to find a defense attorney who has a great record for finding the best possible outcome for his or her clients. 

You will find that Michael Baker of The Baker Law Firm, LLC has one of the best win records of any criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix. 

5. Do you have any testimonials from past legal clients that I can read?

Some attorneys don’t ask for testimonials from clients. 

But, if testimonials are available to you they can be a smart way to see what actual legal clients have to say about the criminal defense attorney you’re thinking of hiring. Most criminal lawyers with satisfied clients will be able to offer you plenty of written testimonials to take with you and read. Your criminal defense attorney may also have testimonials and endorsements from other lawyers in the area. If an attorney doesn’t have any client testimonials or won’t share any with you, you should feel free to ask why not. 

6. How often do your criminal cases go to trial?

Criminal defense proceedings can be tiring, stressful, and costly. In many ways, the best outcome you can have for your case is one that comes quickly. By negotiating to settle out of court through a plea bargain, your attorney may be able to help you avoid having to appear in court and appear before a judge and jury.

Ideally, your Phoenix criminal defense attorney will have adequate knowledge to examine your case and determine if there is a way to find you a fair and reasonable outcome without having to go to trial. On the other hand, if your case does go to trial, you will want to have a criminal lawyer who is confident and competent in the courtroom. 

7. How often do you appear in the courthouse where my case will be heard?

In addition to general experience appearing in a courtroom, it’s necessary to have an attorney who has a good relationship with the judges who would likely preside over your case. 

Michael Baker is a Phoenix criminal defense attorney who knows the local prosecutors and judges and will also have a good idea of what to expect from them and how to shape your defense around their potential actions. With prior knowledge of and experience in the courtroom in which your case will be heard, your criminal defense attorney will be better suited to predict the likely outcome of your case. 

8. Will you be the one working on my case?

Many criminal lawyers belong to firms which employ junior associates and paralegals. Many times Phoenix criminal attorneys will also delegate tasks involved in your case to other less experienced members of the firm. This can be a slight benefit to you, as a junior associate’s hourly rate may be lower, which will save you having to pay a higher rate for your attorney to do the same task.

But, you will want to ensure that your lead criminal defense attorney in Phoenix that you hire is involved in making all of the most critical decisions in your case and is actively overseeing the work being done by other members of the team. It’s a fair question to ask your defense attorney whether he or she will be able to give adequate time and attention to your case.

9. How strong is my case?

No Phoenix criminal lawyer can nor should they guarantee a specific result for your case and you should be wary of any defense attorney in Phoenix who makes promises about what the exact outcome will be. 

However, an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney should be able to evaluate the preliminary information they are given about your case and make an assessment as to how it may likely play out. It’s also important to find what your criminal defense lawyer thinks are the strengths and weaknesses of your case which will shape the defense strategies and tactics he or she will deploy. 

10. What strategies and tactics will  you propose for handling my case?

Just as with the outcome of your criminal case, no attorney can control every single aspect of the legal process or guarantee exactly how your case will play out. However, your defense attorney in Phoenix should be able to devise a clear defensive strategy and a plan for how to proceed with your case. Your criminal attorney should outline for you the possible strategies and tactics, explain to you why they have chosen those strategies for you, and make you aware of each potential strategy’s pros and cons.

More Questions To Ask Your Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney 

11. Do I have any other options besides going to a criminal trial?

Along with inquiring about the overall strength of your case and what your lawyer views are the potential winning strategies, you’ll want to inquire specifically about what other options you have to avoid going to trial. A criminal trial is not only stressful, time consuming, potentially costly, but also puts your fate in the hands of a judge and jury. Sometimes that’s not the best course of action. 

  • Ask your defense attorney if you have the option of working out a fair and reasonable plea bargain or if there are any other ways to avoid taking your case to court.

12. What will my role be in the case?

You should play an important role in the preparation of your case, so it’s vitally important to know exactly what is required of you. Most likely, as the defendant, you will be asked to provide and help prepare documents and relevant background information. You may also be asked not to speak to any witnesses or do any legal work of your own.

In some instances, however, taking an active role can help your case, for example, in a DUI or drug-related case, undergoing rehabilitation treatment before the court orders it may help the outcome of your case later. 

  • You should want to ensure that you are doing everything you can to help your defense case and the best way to do that is to ask your attorney to instruct you.

13. How long will the criminal process be?

The amount of time it takes to get a resolution can vary very widely from case to case. And while your defense attorney cannot control the pacing of your legal defense process, he or she should be able to provide you with an estimate of how long the process will be for your case based on the possible strategies and tactics used. Having an idea about the time frame will help you to prepare for the legal process you are facing.

14. How and how often will we communicate?

You will have many questions throughout the process, especially when faced with charges that could result in serious jail time, fines, or other consequences. You should be able to get a hold of your attorney to ask any questions you may have as they arise. In light of that, a mutually understood communication plan should be put in place. 

You will also want to hear from your attorney regularly with updates about the progress of your case. Think about how often you will want to be able to communicate with your attorney to feel comfortable and confident in your representation.  So make certain that you have exchanged contact information and are aware how to stay in touch.

15. How much money will my criminal defense attorney cost?

You need to find out the costs that you will be facing throughout the process of your defense. Again, do not be intimidated. 

Not only will you be paying your attorney’s fees, but there may be witness costs, investigation costs, and other costs along the way. 

  • When you’re interviewing a criminal lawyer, be upfront about asking what all of the potential costs may be and how their legal fees are structured. 
  • Most attorneys use either an hourly fee or a flat fee, and depending on your case, one or the other may be preferable.

If your attorney charges an hourly fee, you will want to ask that that hourly rate is and if you need to pay a retainer. 

If he or she charges a flat fee, find out what that fee does and does not include plus whether it needs to be paid upfront or can be paid out in installments. Ask your Phoenix defense attorney for an estimate of the cost of their fees as well as additional expenses related to your case. A defense lawyer can be costly, so it’s smart to compare estimates offered by multiple criminal lawyers in Phoenix before making your decision.

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