The benefit of having a criminal defense attorney by your side during criminal trial proceedings is clear. For this reason, it is not only advised that people seek representation from a lawyer when facing a crime, it is a legal right. Even defendants who have no money to afford an attorney of their own will be provided a public defender by the Missouri court system.
However, every criminal defense attorney is different. Certain ones may be more suitable to help you than others.
Important questions to ask your potential defense lawyer
You will want to ask various questions when shopping for a lawyer to determine if the one you’ve selected is the right match for you. Here are the questions you may want to ask:
- Have you ever defended a case like mine? When lawyers handle a lot of DUI/DWI cases, they begin to have a natural instinct for what works and what doesn’t work for this particular kind of case. Make sure your lawyer has the right kind of experience.
- How many times have you actually litigated a case in front of jury? As you know, many people have “performance anxiety” and they freeze up when it’s time to give a presentation. Others thrive in these situations. An attorney with extensive trial experience is more likely to thrive when in front of a judge and jury. This kind of lawyer will also be more likely to defend your rights in court if the prosecution refuses to be reasonable during your trial proceedings.
- Can you provide references from past clients? If a lawyer has dealt successfully with clients in the past, he or she will probably be willing to give you references, so you can get a sense of what it is like to work with the attorney from a real client.
- Have you ever asked a Judge to send someone to jail or prison? Many attorneys who are now criminal defense attorneys tout past experience as a prosecutor as a positive. Sitting in the position of a potential defendant, be wary of former prosecutors. Ensure that their loyalty will lie with you, as their client, and not the prosecutor’s office, who are their friends and former colleagues.
Things to keep in mind about trial experience
It’s very convenient for a lawyer to simply work out a plea deal with the prosecution, skip the trial and make a big compromise. These defense lawyers may do this because don’t have good enough trial instincts to evaluate the true risks and potential benefits of going in front of a jury.
If your lawyer has only been to trial several times, then he or she may not have the reputation of being an aggressive criminal defense litigator — and when negotiating a plea deal, the prosecution may not take him or her as seriously as a lawyer who has such a reputation. Taking these points into consideration, for your benefit, make sure that you select a defense lawyer with extensive trial experience.