How to Select the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in 10 Steps

How to Select the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in 10 Steps

You have rights.Being charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty of anything.  You have rights.  These rights are guaranteed by the state and federal Constitutions.  They are often the difference between winning and losing.  The most important right you have is the right to an attorney.  It is important to exercise your right carefully.  By following the steps noted below, you can help ensure that you receive the greatest benefit from your right to counsel.

1.  Start immediately. 

Start ImmediatelyStart this process as soon after an incident as you are able.  It is important to have your attorney in place before you speak with anyone else.  Many people get caught off guard say things they should not say after an incident with law enforcement.  These kinds of mistakes can have a negative effect on the outcome of your case.

2.  Identify your jurisdiction.

Where did the incident take place?  Criminal Law varies from state to state.  If your incident occurred in North Carolina, you will need a lawyer licensed in North Carolina.

3.  Identify your region.

Hire a local lawyer.It is best to get a lawyer who practices in the county where the incident took place.  A local lawyer will have more credibility with law enforcement officers and with the District Attorney’s office.  In addition, he will have local knowledge that may be helpful to your case.  Beware the lawyer that has offices in Wilmington and Charlotte.  How can he be effective in two counties so far apart?


4.  Find the CRIMINAL DEFENSE lawyers.

Identify the criminal defense  lawyers in your region of your jurisdiction.  Even real estate lawyers have a broad or general understanding of criminal law.  They may even be able to plead you guilty, but “Is that your best result?”  An experienced Criminal Defense lawyer can help you get the best possible result in your case.

Use caution.Criminal Law grows more complex every year.  Comprehensive knowledge and experience is necessary to achieve the best possible result.  You better believe the prosecutor knows what he or she is doing.  This knowledge and experience cannot be gained from books alone.

Also, beware of lawyer who tells you how “AGGRESSIVE!!!” he is.  Good results are not achieved through “bull dogging”, or “smooth talking”.  The best results are achieved by experienced attorneys who work hard and care about their clients.  Great criminal defense lawyers know the people, the place and the process.

Achieving an exceptional result in a criminal case requires the use of the right combination of sticks and carrots at the right times.  It is art and science.  This knowledge and experience is absolutely necessary and can only be attained by working on these types of cases daily over a period of many years. 

5.  Check their scores.

Check your lawyer's scores.Perform an on-line search to identify a list of criminal defense lawyers in the county were the incident took place.  Consider their experience, recognition and professional conduct to develop a short list of qualified injury lawyers.  Avvo, Super Lawyers, Top 100 or Best Lawyers are national independent research services that identify, evaluate and grade lawyers.  The top Criminal Defense lawyers will be identified or graded as such by independent lawyer ranking services.

6.  Read the reviews.

Read the reviews for your lawyer.Perform additional on-line research to determine what former clients say about the lawyers or law firms you are considering.  Client testimonials or Reviews are a great source of information.  Even great lawyers can have a negative review.  It may not be authentic. It may be generated by a competitor.  However, if you look at all the reviews together you should get a good idea of how the lawyer’s previous clients feel about the services they received.

7.  Call for more information.

Call an attorney.Call to get information by phone or to set up a face-to-face consultation.  The call or consultation in a criminal case is generally free of charge and obligation.  Ask questions.  Listen to the answers.  Avoid lawyers who tell you what you want to hear.  The biggest complaint I hear is, “My attorney said this was no big deal and that he would take care of this and now…”.  Ask about attorney fees and costs during the initial consultation.  It is important to understand the fee structure at the beginning of the relationship. 

8.  Select your attorney.

During the identification, research and consultation process, one lawyer or law firm should feel right.  It will feel right when the people with whom you will be working are experienced, knowledgeable and talented and when you feel like they are genuinely concerned for your best interests.

9.  Focus on you.

Focus on you.After you have selected your attorney, your focus should be on moving forward with your life in a positive direction and executing the strategy that you and your lawyer have developed.  Your attorney should gather investigative materials and talk with law enforcement officers and prosecutors.  It is important that you are present for mandatory court appearances and that you comply with the terms of your release pending trial.  You lawyer may ask you to provide documents that support your contentions. 

10.  Communicate with you attorneys. 

Communicate with your lawyer.Communicate with your lawyer as you approach your court date.  You will need to know your court dates.  You will want to know what evidence they have against you.  You should discuss plea offers, trial strategy and alternative dispositions.  You will want to be prepared to make decisions when you go to court with your attorney.

Speaks Law Firm

Speaks Law FirmFollowing these steps is the best way to find the right Criminal Defense Attorney for you.  At the Speaks Law Firm, we have extensive experience and a natinal reputation for vigorously defending our clients in eastern North Carolina at all stages of the criminal process from investigation though appeal.  We have years of daily experience with criminal cases.  We are in court in New Hanover, Pender or Brunswick County almost everyday. 

Clarke and the Speaks Law Firm have achieved National Recognition by attorney ranking services such as AVVO and Super Lawyers.  Specifically, we are rated "10.0" out of a maximum score of 10.0.  We are rated  "Superb".  Superb is the highest possible rating.  We have earned "Top Car Accident Attorney" status by In addition, for the second consecutive year Clarke has been selected to the Super Lawyers and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers for his work in the legal field of personal injury law and criminal defense. Recently, Clarke was awarded the National Association of Distinguished Counsel's Nations Top Attorneys designation.  We look forward to speaking with you about your injury claim.

This information is provided by Speaks Law Firm.  Please visit us at defense lawyers or call (910) 341-7570 for more information about what defending criminal cases in eastern North Carolina.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.