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Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer in West Michigan (Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Big Rapids, etc.): How to Choose the Best Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer for Your Criminal Case

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer in West Michigan (Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Big Rapids, etc.): How to Choose the Best Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer for Your Criminal Case

If you are facing criminal charges in state or federal court, it is imperative that you have the best criminal defense attorney you can find to handle your case.  The stakes are high, as a conviction may lead to jail or prison, fines/costs, probation/parole, restitution, public registration in certain sex offenses, unemployment or difficulty finding a job, restrictions on travel, loss of gun and voting rights, inter alia.  So, how do you find the best attorney to handle your case?  The answer depends on what you traits you are looking for and your objective(s).  Here are some qualities/questions to consider before you hire an attorney:

Knowledge

  • How well do they know criminal law and, more specifically, the type of case you are asking them to handle?
  • What percentage of their practice is devoted to criminal law?
  • What percentage of their practice is devoted to the criminal charges you are facing?
  • How do they stay up-to-date on the law?
  • Are they members of relevant groups/associations that provide continuing legal education?
  • What does their educational background or achievements, i.e., academic honors, law review, moot court, tell you about their commitment to learning, if anything?
  • Are they recognized by their peers or former clients as being among the best?

Experience

  • How long have they practicing law?
  • How many similar cases have they handled?
  • How did those turn out?
  • What experience do they have in your particular court or with the prosecutor?
  • What are the range of possible outcomes, based on their experience?
  • What are the potential hurdles or obstacles to achieving the desired result?

Skills

  • What legal skills are they best known for, e.g., plea bargaining, persuasive legal writing, oral advocacy, or trial advocacy?
  • How many trials have they had?
  • How many trials have they won?
  • How many motions have they won?
  • How many appeals have they handled?  How many have they won?
  • What sort of strategy might they employ in your case to try and get the results you are seeking?

Responsiveness

  • How easy is it to communicate with or reach this attorney?
  • How do they communicate, e.g., phone calls, letters, email, text, or through staff?
  • Does it seem like it a bother to answer your questions?
  • How quickly do they usually respond to questions?
  • How can you reach them in an emergency?

Costs

  • Are the fees flat fees, hourly, or a mix of both?
  • How much will it cost to handle your case?
  • How much will it cost to negotiate a plea?
  • How much will it cost to file a motion to suppress evidence?
  • How much will it cost if it goes to trial?
  • How much is the retainer or upfront cost?
  • Is the retainer fully refundable, partially refundable, or non-refundable?
  • Do they provide detailed billing?
  • What is the attorney’s normal hourly rate?
  • Do they try and minimize costs through the use of associates, paralegals or legal assistants?  If so, what are their rates?
  • Does the retainer include the costs of hiring an expert, e.g., an investigator, toxicologist, polygrapher?
  • What methods of payment do they accept, i.e., cash, check, credit card, etc.

Personality/Fit

  • Are you comfortable with this attorney?
  • Do you want to go through a trying time with them?
  • Do they seem committed to helping you and trying to obtain the results you seek?
  • Do they seem patient and eager to answer to all your questions or annoyed that you are taking up their time?
  • How helpful are their staffs?

The list above of things to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point your evaluation of whom to hire. Because hiring an attorney to handle what is undoubtedly one of the most important times in your life is such an important decision, be sure to take your time and do your homework, and so you are comfortable and confident you have hired the best attorney to handle your case.

If you are facing criminal charges in Grand Rapids or West Michigan, please call Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law for a free consultation (616-458-5500 or 231-924-8700) and see if we are the right attorneys to handle your case.

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