If you have been arrested, you know that the consequences may spread far beyond what the punishment that the court may impose. Selecting the right criminal defense attorney is a critical part of your response to ensure that the effects are minimized. Asking the right questions will help you choose the best Bangor criminal lawyer for your case.
Identifying Knowledge and Practice
Begin your evaluation of potential attorneys by asking about their educational background and experience to gauge their skills. Ask what law school they attended and how long they've practiced as an attorney. Continue the process by determining their bar or other professional organization memberships.
Match the prospective lawyers to your needs by asking whether they have always practiced criminal defense and the percentage of their clients who have faced charges similar to yours. Question them about how often they negotiate plea agreements and how often the cases are taken to trial. Finally, ask how often they appear in the particular court(s) in which you will be tried and what kind of relationships they have with the relevant prosecutors.
Assessing Your Case
The next concerns relate to your case more specifically. Ask the attorney what the consequences of pleading guilty might be and whether or not you could plead guilty to lesser charges. Ask whether the attorney feels you should go to trial and, if so, what strategy he or she would employ. Solicit opinions about which facts of the case will work in your favor and which will work against you, and get him or her to take you through the process, step by step, beginning with the arraignment and continuing through a trial.
Managing Your Case
These questions deal with the time and effort the attorney has and will commit to your case. Begin by asking simply, "Do you have time to represent me?" Then determine whether another associate in the office will be working on the case (and be sure to meet that individual, as well) and who should be contacted with questions, along with the preferred method of contact, including calls, emails or texts. Also, ask how quickly you should expect to receive replies to your contact. Above all else, make sure you are confident in the attorney's qualifications and comfortable with that person handling your case. After all, you will be working closely with the attorney during the coming months and you should feel comfortable interacting with the attorney and confident that the attorney will return calls and answer your questions.
Paying for Representation
When you are satisfied with the answers to these other questions, you're ready to consider the fees involved. First, ask whether the attorney will charge a flat fee or an hourly rate, and then ask how much the appropriate one would be. Find out exactly what is included in a flat fee and whether or not you will be expected to pay it all upfront. If the attorney bills on an hourly rate, ask whether you will be expected to pay a retainer and how much will be required. Finally, ask for an estimate of any other case-related expenses that might be incurred. If you, or a loved one, are in need of professional legal advice please contact the Law Office of William T. Bly for a free case evaluation at (207) 571-8146.