Criminal Lawyer – Meaning, Benefits, Reasons and How to Hire

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There
are times when you find yourself accused of criminal charges. You may or may
not be guilty but you have to go through the legal proceedings. As you don’t
have the specialized knowledge of criminal laws you must be looking to hire a
criminal lawyer to represent yourself. Through their education, skills and
years of experience handling such cases, they will be able to talk about the
outcomes of the case, legal options before you and help get you the least
penalty, if found guilty.

Given
the crucial role a criminal lawyer plays in defending you, knowing about his
role, reasons to hire, and how to hire a good lawyer is important.

Criminal Lawyer


Meaning
and Definition

Before
we proceed further, it is essential to know the meaning and definition of a
criminal lawyer. Merriam Webster dictionary defines a criminal lawyer as a
lawyer who represents defendants in a criminal case. On the other hand, Collins
Dictionary defines a criminal lawyer who focuses on the defense of an accused
of a crime. If you refer Dictionary.com it defines a criminal lawyer as the
person whose specialization lies in the practice of criminal law. If we draw a
conclusion from the meanings and definitions, a criminal lawyer can be defined
as a lawyer who specializes in criminal laws. Most of these lawyers have done
specialization courses in criminal justice and have several years of experience
in defending those accused of criminal cases.

What
Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?

A
criminal lawyer represents his client facing criminal charges. He defends him
in state, federal or appellate courts. His other responsibilities include
investing the cases and questioning witnesses. To make the case strong, he may
be required to research different laws associated with the case and find the
procedure that may be appropriate. In addition, he may be required to draft,
file and argue motions as and when required. He appears for the defendants at a
court.

Top
Reasons to Hire a Criminal Lawyer



While hiring a lawyer several questions come to our mind. Is money spent on fee
is really worth it? Should I represent myself? There could be a lot of
questions. Here we discuss top reasons to hire a criminal lawyer.

They
Know the Legal System Inside Out

The
criminal law is very complicated and to win a case you have to know the
in-and-out in this law. It is something that is beyond the understanding of the
common man or someone accused of a crime. On the other hand, a lawyer studies
the law for several years and practice it. With a good understanding of the
legal system, they know how to use it in your favor.

They
Know the People in Court

As
they have spent several years in practicing in a court, a lawyer enjoys a good
relation with prosecutors. A good relation of your attorney with prosecuting
authority plays a vital role in deciding verdict of the case. Such a relation
allows them to negotiate a better deal.

Experience
of Handling Similar Cases

One
of the major reasons to hire a criminal lawyer is that they have several years
of experience in handling similar cases. And they may have learnt valuable
lessons. They better know which action leads to which consequences. This
experience helps them better manage your case.

They
Save Your Money

When
people say to always go for a top lawyer and top doctor then there is certainly
a point in it. Hiring a good lawyer is always worth it. They help you get
maximum relief and, in all probability, you will continue to do your job and
keep your license. Losing a job or losing a license would cost you far more
than what would you pay to a professional lawyer.

They
Brief You About the Outcomes

Most
of the experienced lawyers have handled several cases like your so they know
about the possible outcomes of the case. They don’t paint a rosy picture,
instead, they say what can you expect from the case. They will advise you on
options to take the bail plea or challenges the charges in court.

What
Are the Major Skills of a Criminal Lawyer?

Not all criminal lawyers are equally
effective. They need to have a combination of several skills. If you are
looking to hire an ideal lawyer for your case, these are the top skills you
must look for.

Great
Communication Skills

A
criminal defense lawyer should have excellent communication skills both in
writing as well as speaking. Writing, as he has to draft the case and speaking
as he has to argue the case before the court in a persuasive manner.

Research
Skills

A
Criminal attorney must be good at research. He should be great at finding
references related to the cases they are handling. Having good references of
your case would substantiate the case. Apart from the research, he should also
be good with investigative skills as the several aspects of the case need to be
investigated.

Creative
and Analytical

A
criminal lawyer must have a good combination of creative and analytical skills.
Such skills come into play in formulating legal strategies and analyzing it.

Legal
Expertise

Having
legal expertise is the prerequisite for a lawyer. He should have completed his
education from a recognized university. Any specialization in criminal law
would be an asset. Besides, he must be registered with the local, state or
federal bar association.

Experience

Besides
qualification, a lawyer should also have a wealth of experience. He should have
practiced the criminal law for a few years and must have handled some criminal
cases with good results.

Interpersonal
Skills

A
lawyer should be great with interpersonal skills. He should be able to maintain
a happy client-lawyer relationship. People facing criminal charges often look
for a great criminal attorney, and here, an attorney with good interpersonal
skills can convince clients to get cases.

Top Traits of a Criminal lawyer

As you have been charged with a crime, you may
not be picking just any lawyer to defend you. In fact, you might be looking for
the one that is best in business. Identifying such a criminal lawyer is
difficult. But there are certain characteristics that help you separate the
grain from the chaff.

Knowledge

Being
knowledgeable is one of the first and foremost traits for a criminal lawyer.
Apart from the basic legal education, a specialization in law gives a lawyer an
edge over the others. As new laws being introduced from time to time replacing
existing laws, a good criminal attorney should keep himself abreast of these
developments.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality
is an important personality trait of any type of lawyer and a criminal lawyer
is no exception. You should prefer hiring one that has a good record of not
disclosing the confidential information. Disclosure of information may lead to
complications.

Negotiation
Skills

A
criminal defense lawyer must be a great negotiator. As most of the times, the
cases are settled outside court, your lawyer should be a master negotiator to
safeguard your interests while your case is settled outside the court. He
should also be able to take the agreement to the judge.

Focus

Your
attorney must be focused on your case and keep searching for points that may
make it strong. A focused attorney perseveres to keep searching such points.

A
To Do Approach

A
lawyer should have a to-do approach. Several obstacles will come in their way
while defending you. But a lawyer with determination will leave no stone
unturned to get a decision in your favor. He will knock all the doors, press
all the right buttons and do all the hard work to defend you successfully.

Communication Skills

Communication
skills are something for lawyer what flying is for birds. A criminal lawyer
should be a good listener and a great speaker. He should always listen to you
and suggest you what is needed to be done. A lawyer with good communication
skills has an edge over others in the courtroom where he represents you.

Honesty

Honesty
is one of the major personality traits of a criminal lawyer. And this trait can
be seen even in the first meeting. A lawyer with integrity will let you know
what can you expect from a case and whatnot. He talks clearly about his fees
and hides nothing. As the case progresses, he keeps updating about the recent
developments. He doesn’t hide any key information from you.

Reputation

As
they say, reputation comes from good deeds and lawyer is no exception. if he is
good in demeanor, honest and has a good success rate he will be enjoying a good
reputation. The people would not be admiring him for nothing.

Knowledge
of Courtroom

A
good lawyer has a good command over the order of the courtroom. He knows well
when to keep quiet and when to show aggression. He doesn’t get provoked by
lawyers and judges speaks in a normal but firm tone.

Finding
Loop holes

A
good criminal lawyer is good to analyze the files of your case and often find
loopholes in the story. He interprets these loopholes logically to tilt the
decision in your favor.

Creativity

Though
people focus less on creativity, it is something a lawyer must have in order to
be successful. Judges and jury members are highly creative people and get
creative while asking questions. They put you at several hypothetical
situations while examining the case. If your lawyer is not a creative person,
he will not be able to answer their queries and it will negatively impact you.
So, you should prefer an attorney who has a creative bent of mind.

Decision
Making Skills

Among
other things, your lawyer should be great with decision-making skills. Criminal
cases take a lot of time to reach conclusion. In the meantime, a case has to
pass through different stages where an attorney needs to make a decision. A lot
of things depend on these decisions. From getting bail to collecting evidence
and making a strategy he has to make several decisions. A faulty decision at
any of these stages will impact your case adversely. He should be well
informed, analytical and logical in approach. And perhaps it Is what makes a
difference between good and bad lawyers.
 

Different Types of Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers in itself is a specialized
category. But this specialization is further divided into different
sub-specializations. Here we describe in brief different types of criminal
lawyers.

Public
Defender

A
public defender is a lawyer who is appointed to represent people in court who
don’t afford to hire a lawyer. They are full-time employees working with state
or federal government.

Panel
Lawyer

A
panel lawyer is a private lawyer who agrees to represent a defendant on a
government expense. Panel lawyers are provided in cases where a defendant is
not able to meet the expenses. Most of the time these lawyers are paid an
hourly compensation. They have a complementary role to a public defender.

Private
Lawyer

Private
lawyer represents a defendant for a particular sum of money and usually hired
by the individuals and bodies who are able to pay a fee. They get paid on an
hourly basis or a fixed amount.

Legal
Aid

Some
non-government and nonprofit organization also provide legal help or
representation to the defendants who are not able to pay a fee. Almost every
state in the USA has such an organization offering legal help to the defendants
for free.

District
Lawyer

The
government has a duty to prosecute those who have committed a crime. To follow
the procedure of prosecution the government hires district lawyers.

Types
of Cases to be Dealt by a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers deal with a number of cases
right from drug abuse to alcohol-related issues and violet crime cases to
disorderly conduct cases. Here we list the major cases to be dealt by criminal
lawyers.

Property
Crime

Property
crimes are crimes when someone interferes with the property of another and
deprive them of the use of a property. The crime also involves physical or
mental harm. Property crimes also include theft, shoplifting and burglary among
the others.

Personal
Crimes

Personal
crimes may be defined as the crimes that may cause physical or mental harm to
the aggrieved person. These crimes may be divided into homicide and violent
crimes. If the physical harm is so much that it leads to death, the defendant
may be charged with murder. Some violent crimes are assault, arson, child
abuse, domestic abuse and kidnapping and rape among the others.

Inchoate Crimes

Inchoate
crimes are crimes that were initiated but not completed. But these crimes lay
the foundation of crimes. Adding and abetting, attempt and conspiracy are some
of the popular inchoate crimes. The punishment for these crimes could be the
same as committing crimes or less.

Financial
Crimes

Financial
crimes can be defined as crimes when a defendant makes financial gains through
fraud or deception. Some white-collar crimes also come under financial crimes.
Money laundering, tax evasion, cybercrimes, embezzlement and blackmail comes
under this category.

Statutory
Crimes

Statutory
crimes are crimes where statutes of state and federal government are broken.
The statutory crimes are crimes that the government and society want to stop.
Driving under influence (DUI), drug trafficking, selling alcohol to minor,
public intoxication, underage DUI, reckless driving, driving without license
and hit and run accidents are some of the statutory crimes.

How
Much a Criminal Lawyer Charges?

When it comes to fees, there is no uniformity
in the fees of the criminal defense attorney as it depends on a lot of factors.

The
fee of the criminal defense lawyer depends a lot on the type of offense. The
charges for felonies could be far higher than misdemeanor. Likewise, there are
different charges for traffic matters, DUI and DWI. Let us discuss different
types of crimes and charges.

Attorney
Fee for Traffic Tickets

The
charges for traffic tickets are around 100 hundred dollars. The charges depend
on the number of tickets issued and the seriousness of the ticket. The types of
driving license you are carrying also has a bearing on the cost of attorney.
Whether your attorney has to visit the court to represent you and how many
times you need to represent you also affects the fees.

Attorney
Fee for Violation

The
cost of hiring an attorney for a traffic violation is usually higher than an
attorney dealing with traffic tickets. In general traffic violation attorney
has to appear in the court so the relatively higher charges are quite
understandable.

Attorney
Fee for Misdemeanor

The
fee for an attorney for dealing with misdemeanor is around a thousand dollars.
The fees depend upon the kind of charges and previous criminal history of the
accused. The attorney charges for such cases depending on the number of
appearances required, legal research involved and meetings required to discuss
the cases.

Attorney
Fee for Felonies

Felonies
have been divided into different classes depending upon the seriousness of the
crime. The charges start from thousands of dollars and may go up to hundred
thousand dollars based on the seriousness of the crime.

Apart
from that geographical location, the complexity of the cases and experience of
attorney all have a bearing on the fees. So, while hiring a lawyer you have to
also take all these factors into account.

How
to Choose the Right Criminal Lawyer?

The people who are facing criminal charges
often look for a good criminal defense lawyer but don’t know how to get an
ideal fit. Here we try to suggest ways to select the right criminal attorney.

Prefer
A Responsive Lawyer

While
looking for a criminal lawyer you should prefer one who is highly responsive
and starts working on your case right. Any delay in response will lead to
losing the edge. As you are facing criminal charges you might be looking for
instant relief and your legal team must be able to meet you on short notice.

Prefer
One with Specialized Knowledge

While
choosing a lawyer, you shouldn’t compromise over the quality. You must check
whether the lawyer specializes in criminal law. You should go through his
profile to know whether he specializes in criminal law. There are various
specializations available and one must have done a recognized specialization.
You should also know whether he has practiced criminal law before. Detailed
knowledge about it can also be obtained from his professional network profile.

Schedule
a Consultation

Most
of the attorneys offer free first consultation while others charge an hourly
fee. Even if your prospective attorney charges a fee, you should meet him to
discuss your case and what you can expect from him. A personal meeting will
help you know the attorney and if the things turn out good you can hire him if
not, you always have the option to look for the one that meets your
requirements. Don’t hire an attorney solely on someone’s recommendations.

Attorney
with Law on Fingertips

Some
experienced attorneys have laws on fingertips. In the very first meeting, they
will ask you certain questions to evaluate your case and let you know the
possible penalties in a very small time. They ask all the right question which
has a bearing on the judgement. They also suggest the best options available to
you. Such criminal defense attorneys are hard to find but if you find them,
grab them on the first opportunity.

Fee
Structure

The
fee structure is one of the major points to consider while hiring an attorney.
There are times when you find a good attorney with an excellent track record
but his fee is not within your budget. On the other side, there are some
attorneys that offer a fee structure with hidden charges. Such an attorney
should be outrightly avoided. Good attorneys always have a clearly defined fee
structure that says everything about fees to be paid so that clients have a
clear idea about it. It helps them to manage finances. Here we advise you to
not to get into the trap of hiring a cheap lawyer as they may not live up to
the expectation. You should always prefer one who gets things done even if he
charges some extra bucks.

is
He Enthusiastic?
 


A certain level of enthusiasm is necessary for
success in any field. And law practice is not an exception. They put an extra
effort to prepare the case and put their point across in the court
persuasively. They advise you to settle for a judgement only when it is the
best you can get. He advised you whether you should go for the trial or settle
with what is offered. Besides education and experience, a certain level of
enthusiasm is necessary for a criminal defense lawyer.

Is
He Confident in Courtroom?

Confidence
is another must-have personality trait for an attorney. An absence of it may
result in losing the case. During court trials, there are some moments a lawyer
has to raise an objection that has a bearing on the outcome. If the lawyer is
not confident about this, you may lose an opportunity. Here an experienced
lawyer would seize this opportunity for you and make it work to your advantage.
You should prefer one who has a good understanding of court procedures.

Experience

Qualification
and knowledge are good but these are no substitute of experience. Through years
of experience, an experienced legal professional knows how to handle a
particular situation. As he may have handled several similar situations, he
knows well what works best in your situation. Don’t assign a case to your
lawyer if he doesn’t have hands-on experience.

Besides
experience, you should also check their relevant domain experience. For
example, if you have charged with drunken driving you should check if he has
experience in defending people charged with drunken driving. Ask if they have represented
a person facing a similar charge. What is the percentage of drunken driving
cases out of total cases they have handled? Do they have done any certification
in representing drunken driving cases? Always give preference to one who has
done such a certification. in a nutshell, you shouldn’t compromise over the
quality and experience of the lawyer.

Good
to Get Along

The
personality of a criminal lawyer is one of the major considerations. He should
have a pleasing personality so that you can get along with him. Good
coordination with your lawyer is essential to defend a case. If you have a good
understanding of the decision making gets easy. In one or two meetings you will
get to know whether or not you will be able to work with him. Are you able to understand
his explanations? Is he showing genuine concern over your case and willing to
walk the extra mile to help you out? Is he trying to know about your situation
or he is just concerned with the fees? Overall, is he enjoying a good
reputation in court? After evaluating him on these parameters if you find that
he is a good person to work with, only then you should hire him, else you are
free to look for other options.

Success
Rate

The
success rate of an attorney is also a major factor you should consider while
selecting a lawyer. You should know how many cases they have handled and what
have been the success rate. If your attorney has handled 20 cases and has won
16 then it can be said a good percentage. Only take the references to cases
that are similar to yours.

Location

Location
of your attorney’s office is also a major consideration while you are searching
for an attorney for your case. You need to visit his office often to discuss
the case and an attorney in proximity would be a good option for you.

Bail
is Not Enough

There
are criminal defense lawyers who put more focus on bail and less focus on
solving the case in your favor. You should avoid hiring these lawyers. You
should prefer an attorney who doesn’t only focus on bail but also make good
strategies to resolve the case.

Records
at Local Courts

Timely
response and specialized knowledge are good but there are other things that are
important too. His experience at local courts is one of them. A criminal lawyer
must enjoy great connections at local courts as these connections play a key
role while fighting the case. Despite everything being laid out by the law,
every court and judge have its own way of working. A lawyer knowing these
preferences can use this in your favor. This knowledge of court will help you
make good strategies for your case.

Check
His Credentials

Even
if a lawyer meets the all required criteria, you shouldn’t mind checking his
credentials from the standard sources. A lot of information about him may be
available on the internet. You can find about him on websites like Yelp and
LinkedIn. Reviews can also be found on a social media website like Facebook
where clients also talk about the services. You should also check with a bar
association to know if anyone has complained about him.

Seek
Referrals

The
internet may be a good source to know about a lawyer but there is nothing like
a word-of-mouth reference. While looking for a criminal lawyer, you should seek
referrals from your friends, colleague and extended circle. Some of them must
have used the services of a lawyer in the past. Even if they have a bad
experience with his lawyer, they must be knowing which lawyer is good in this
particular field.

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