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Facing criminal charges is a scary prospect. Fortunately, you don't have to face them alone. Having legal counsel when charged with a crime isn't just a good idea, it's a constitutional right. And one that you're probably better off exercising.
But even if you made the decision to hire a defense attorney, you still have to pick the right one. So here are five pieces of advice to consider when hiring a criminal defense lawyer:
Probably. Often times, people charged with misdemeanors don't take the charges seriously because either the crime itself wasn't extreme or the penalties seem relatively light. But that can be a mistake. Even misdemeanor convictions can go on your criminal record, and an attorney can make sure your rights are protected, possibly arrange a more favorable plea bargain, and help get your record expunged if you plead guilty are convicted.
First you need a lawyer you can trust. After that, experience handling criminal cases and taking them trial is essential. And, of course, there's always price...
Well, that all depends. For certain crimes, you may qualify for a public defender. And just because they're free doesn't mean they're not qualified or great at their job. If you can afford an attorney, their rate will normally depend on their level of experience, the severity of your charges, and the complexity of your case.
Military veterans often face unique legal problems for which they need particular legal services. Many jurisdictions are setting up Veterans Treatment Courts specifically for veterans facing criminal charges. And there are criminal defense attorneys that specialize in representing veterans.
This is a nightmare scenario for criminal defendants, and, sadly, it can happen. If you're attorney did not provide you adequate representation, you may be entitled to a new trial. At the very least, you should hire a new attorney to review your case.
If you've been charged with a crime, or want to appeal a criminal conviction, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.