A frequent question I am asked is “what should I look for in a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney?” There are many factors to consider and it can be overwhelming given the stressful time one is going through when in need of a quality criminal defense attorney. In Los Angeles and Southern California especially, there are many criminal defense attorneys, but determining what is a good fit for you can be daunting.
Some key areas to focus on (or ask questions about) before hiring a criminal defense attorney are:
- Overall experience in criminal defense practice;
- Will one attorney be devoted to your case, or various associates;
- Familiarity with the nature of the underlying criminal charge;
- Experience in the particular courthouse assigned to your case and its procedures and the judges requirements;
- Knowledge of the district attorneys and/or prosecutors assigned to the case;
- General strategy and/or approach to such criminal defense cases;
- Communication policy with the client: will one attorney handle most communication with the client or will you be speaking with non-attorneys and paralegals?;
- Cost & fees involved – flat fees or on an hourly basis.
- Anticipated case duration;
- Potential consequences and punishment for the charges at hand;
- Trial vs. Plea Bargaining;
Of course this is not an exhaustive list. When your criminal defense attorney has a chance to review the evidence and process the facts of your case, more in depth discussions must be had to flesh out the key details of your defense strategy and the positive/negative aspects of the case against you. A clear discussion and answers to the above list is an excellent way to to gauge the knowledge, competency and communication skills of the criminal defense attorney at hand—questions to which a client deserves clear and comprehensive answers.