Anyone charged with a criminal offense, especially if it is a felony, needs to find and retain a great criminal defense attorney for their case. In many cases, the criminal defense attorneys that are seen on television or in the media on high profile cases are not the best for you, and often charge fees that few people can afford.
After the O.J. Simpson case, criminal defendants flocked to the offices of his main attorney, Johnnie Cochran. The same phenomenon occurred with Mark Geragos, who defended Michael Jackson and other stars. What these defendants failed to appreciate, however, is that much of the pretrial work and investigation in these high-profile cases is performed by other attorneys and their criminal defense bolstered by the tremendous resources that celebrity defendants can muster. At times, poor legal advice from these media-savvy attorneys have harmed their clients.
For your criminal case, you need to retain a criminal defense attorney located near you, who has the credentials and experience suited for your particular crime and case, and with whom you can establish a certain rapport and trust. After all, you may be spending many hours with your attorney and his or her staff.
References from friends and family who have had favorable experiences with a criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. Best of all, though, is a referral from another attorney or legal professional who may more fully appreciate the type of attorney who is best suited for your case. A highly regarded defense attorney may meet with you but is unlikely to take your case if it is not a serious felony or you are unable to meet his or her fees or payment plan, if any, and will either refer you to someone else in the office or to some other outside attorney.
Even if you are referred to an outside attorney, you should at least investigate that attorney further, especially since criminal defense attorneys and are usually familiar with each other’s skills and knowledge on particular kinds of criminal offenses.
Bar Association or Legal Directory
If you cannot obtain a direct referral from a legal professional or friend, then you may consult your county bar association. Many reputable attorneys in good standing are referred from their bar association.
A legal directory found online, such as LegalMatch or Martindale-Hubbell, are also excellent sources for the criminal defense attorney you are seeking. These sites will provide you with areas of practice, biographical information, education, credentials, certifications, and AV-ratings, which are peer-judged ratings regarding an attorney’s trial and analytical skills.
Social Media Sites
Although relatively new and just being used by many professionals, you should not overlook these sites on gaining more personal information about the attorney you are considering. You can usually get a link to the attorney’s Facebook page from the lawyer’s website, or look to see if one exists on your own.
If the attorney has one, he or she will usually include their community involvement, associations they belong to, recreational activities, or stories or events that make them more accessible or sensitive to your needs and case. For example, the attorney may work with convicted felons or Afghan and Iraq war veterans trying to find employment or education opportunities or grants for them, or work with disadvantaged children. For your needs, being able to relate to life experiences may produce a bond and a lasting trust. It may also give the attorney more credibility with judges and prosecutors when it comes time to plea bargain your case or determine a suitable sentence.