Six Steps for Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

No one wants to go through the experience of being charged with a crime. It has the power to upend your entire world. Quite suddenly, your life and its regular day-to-day routine will be thrown by the wayside so you can focus on what has become the most important thing: building the kind of strong legal defense that will cast reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s case against you, and ultimately protect your freedom.

But how do you do that? Most people have very little experience with the ins and outs of the justice system, and much of the public’s perception of this world is colored by film and television and other media, and while that world’s heightened sense of drama and storytelling paints an exciting picture about law, it’s not exactly instructive. And it’s not always accurate.

Far and away the most important that you should do if you’ve been charged with a crime is secure a criminal defense attorney.

As soon as is humanly possible. Once you’ve been arrested and read your Miranda rights, anything you say or do after the fact is evidence that the prosecution can use against you. Having legal guidance by your side will not only make this process easier for you overall, but it is your constitutional right to have legal representation. Having the right representation can mean the difference between freedom or jail time.

Here are a few important tips to consider when you’re
choosing a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey

Do they have experience representing people charged with the same crime you’ve been charged with?

This requires a little understanding on your part. What have you been charged with? Is it a state or a federal charge? It’s important that the person you’ve chosen to represent you in court has specific experience in defending clients who have been charged with crimes the same or similar to yours.

Don’t believe us? Just for a second, imagine that you’ve chosen a lawyer with experience in medical fraud yet you’re facing drug trafficking charges. They’re different realms of understanding. And it’s doubly troubling that they’d take a case like yours to begin with, but it happens! Luckily, there are firms like the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot, where we have extensive experience in defending people charged with different types of crimes.

Do they have a proven track record for success?

Experience is important, but a criminal defense attorney’s track record for success is a crucial indication of their ability to protect your long-term freedom. Though time is of the essence, seek out referrals from loved one or colleagues who might have recommendations. Used trusted review sites to get even more real-world opinions about their performance in and out of the courtroom. Are they respected by their clients? Are they respected by their peers in the profession? As it does in many fields, a professional’s reputation matters, and with something as delicate as your freedom hanging in the balance, you deserve to be confident that the person representing you is experienced, respected, and effective.

Are they responsive when you contact them?

Depending on the severity of your situation and the extent of your case, your attorney may be juggling multiple cases and responsibilities. But you should never be made to feel that way. A criminal defense attorney’s “bedside manner” should include you feeling like your case is the most important one that they’ve worked on, because this process is as much building a relationship as it is a guided journey through the justice system.

You have to learn to rely on each other, and it’s a two way street to get there. Remember, there’s a reason we’re called “counsel.” You, as the client must be completely transparent and honest with your attorney, no matter how scared, proud, or embarrassed you might feel about sharing certain details. Those things don’t matter to us. The truth does.

Are they surrounded by a good team?

It’s rare that an attorney will be working on your case entirely on their own. If you’re taking an initial meeting with an attorney at their firm or in a context in which you’re exposed to their colleagues, take note of who they’ve surrounded themselves with. Do they conduct themselves professionally? Does it appear that your counsel and their team respect each other? Do they support each other and appear to work well together? Considering these questions will help you determine if you’re making the right decision, because the way they operate and the way they treat each other is no doubt a reflection of how they will serve you as your criminal defense team.

Are they good communicators?

You’ve been charged with a crime but this hardly makes you an expert in the criminal justice world. In fact, it’s a new experience for most. In light of that, is the criminal defense attorney you’re working with taking the time to make sure that you understand the charges you’re facing? Are they making absolutely certain that you have clarity about what your options are and that what, good or bad, the possible outcomes for you are?

If you don’t feel like you’re being spoken to or represented in a way that makes sense to you, then your attorney is doing you a serious disservice. This is not the time for surprises. Quite the opposite, actually. This should be a time for you where you have as much predictability as you can, and your counsel should be empathetic enough to not only understand that but to support you accordingly.

Are their fees understandable?

Similarly to their being good communicators, is the way in which their fee structure is laid out in a way that you can understand? Hiring or keeping a lawyer on retainer can be a costly expense, and you should know right away how your lawyer and their team will be charging you for their services. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re being nickeled and dimed in a matter counterintuitive to the way in which billing was explained to you, or if you’re suddenly being presented with extra expenses that weren’t discussed up front, this is more than enough of an indication that this firm doesn’t have your best interests in mind and we’d recommend you find different counsel.

Protect Your Rights — Contact the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot for an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. We specialize in:

Federal Criminal Defense
Federal drug possession
Federal drug trafficking
Public corruption
Tax fraud
Tax evasion/failure to file tax return
Bank fraud and mortgage fraud
Healthcare fraud
Medical billing audits/medical billing fraud
Criminal inquiries into pharmacies (Oxycontin)
Internet crimes
Child pornography
State and Local Criminal Defense
Child pornography
Drug possession
Drug trafficking
Sex crimes/sexual assault
Defense of medical professionals
Defense of legal professionals,
Murder and homicide
Theft and property crimes