10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan
If you are facing a criminal charge in Michigan, or seeking help for a loved one, hiring the right criminal defense attorney is critical. However, we all know how difficult finding the right defense attorney can be, especially when it is your life and liberty, or that of a loved one, on the line.
There are many things to think about, and a ton of details to pay attention to. Here are the Top 10 things you should know about your Michigan criminal defense attorney before making a decision.
#1: Do they specialize in criminal law practice?
Unlike professionals, such as doctors, who are mostly trained in a specific area of medicine, lawyers must learn a bit of everything, as required by the Bar Examination. So, this means that technically, anyone licensed to practice law in Michigan can represent you in your criminal matter.
But with that said, you wouldn’t want a heart surgeon performing complex brain surgery, would you?
That is why hiring a lawyer who only works with criminal matters is so important.
With your reputation, freedom, and ability to care for your family at stake, you want the help of a lawyer who only handles criminal cases.
#2: Do they have experience handling criminal cases like yours?
Even within criminal law, there are many different levels of charges and ways to approach a criminal case. As a result, while an attorney may have criminal law experience, they may not have had the opportunity to handle a case like yours in the past. This is an extremely important detail that should not be overlooked when speaking to a criminal defense attorney.
One of the things that makes criminal defense attorneys so effective is the fact that they have handled many cases similar to yours. They have had the opportunity to learn the law in that area, apply it in practice, and even put that knowledge to work in helping you as they did in the past with a previous client.
That added experience is vital to you and your case.
#3: How do they propose to handle your case?
With the preliminaries out of the way, the next thing you should learn is what they intend to do about your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney will already start strategizing from the moment they listen to your story.
They will typically ask you a lot of questions to get at all the tiny details of your case and start formulating a plan that can work for you. Ask the attorney what they think about the strength of your case and the potential defenses that are relevant to your case.
This is a good place to evaluate the honesty, sincerity, and openness of your attorney. An attorney who intends to put you first will be frank with you about how much trouble you are in and what will be necessary to help you.
#4: Do they have jury trial experience?
The vast majority of criminal charges are resolved before trial. However, you want to be confident that you have an attorney who is comfortable in Court and in front of a jury arguing your case.
Clarify these important factors with the attorney and be certain that if it is necessary to take your case to trial, they will have the skills, experience, and strong strategy to secure victory on your behalf.
#5: Do they have experience in local courts?
Local presence and experience may not seem all that important until you find yourself in a hostile court with an indifferent judge and jurors. Attorneys maintain strong networks, and when it comes to getting the system to work in your favor, these networks are extremely important.
Sometimes, it can be something as little as getting the prosecutor to file important documents on time. Other times, it can be a big deal, such as getting a prosecutor to agree to a fair plea deal or convincing the court that you deserve to be let out on bail while your case is pending.
Question the criminal defense attorney in detail to ensure they have extensive experience in and around local courts, as well as a reliable network that you can count on.
#6: Do you have any options besides trial?
Although your attorney should be prepared to take your case to trial, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to trial. In many ways, securing a plea deal before trial or exploring alternative options may be the most favorable outcome for you.
Learn if the attorney can recommend any options to resolve your case before trial, and what these options will mean for you. If there is no other option but to proceed to trial, let the attorney recommend alternative sentencing options, downward departures, or options for alternative disposition that they might explore on your behalf.
All of these can save you the embarrassment and inconvenience of a larger fine, a longer sentence, or keep you from going to jail in the first place.
#7: What can you expect from the process?
A good Michigan criminal defense attorney should let you know what to expect from day one. Usually, your case can take any number of turns, depending on the strategy and options the attorney is exploring on your behalf.
It is your right to learn what you can expect during the process and what the likely outcomes might be. Ask the attorney to explain all of this clearly to you, so you are in the best position to make an informed decision.
#8: What is their plan for communication?
Remember, you are the one hiring the attorney. They work for you, not the other way round. As a result, you are entitled to regular and detailed updates about your case, including what steps have been taken, the success of those steps, and other things proposed to be done.
Let the attorney explain clearly how they propose to communicate with you and how often. Ask to know the specific person who would oversee your case and what the options are for getting in touch with that person.
This is what sets The Bennett Law Firm, PLC apart from other law firms – you will always get a callback!
#9: What are your obligations during the process?
Although the attorney will take the responsibility of preparing your defense off you, there may still be certain obligations you need to perform. For instance, if you were charged with a drug offense, your attorney may advise that you enroll in a rehabilitation program to help your chances of a positive outcome.
Ask the attorney to let you know what will be expected of you during the process so you have a clear idea of what you will be doing to help your case.
#10: How much will your defense cost?
Finally, you should never conclude the interview with the attorney without first learning what their professional fees will be and how they intend to charge. Attorneys have different arrangements for how they collect fees, so even if you have worked with an attorney before, things may be different with the new lawyer.
Some lawyers prefer to charge an hourly rate, while others will charge a flat fee for specific stages of your defense.
With these 10 questions, you will be that much closer to finding out if the criminal defense attorney is right for your case. At the Bennett Law Firm, we specialize in only criminal law and have been representing Michigan residents in criminal cases of all types.
We invite you to take advantage of our services, which include a free initial case review with an experienced attorney who will listen to your story and advise you on your options.
Call (248) 281-6991 to get started today.