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Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been accused of a crime, or if you have just learned you’re being sued, your life has suddenly been turned upside down and your future is at stake. The most important decision you have to make now is choosing the best defense lawyer.

You may be able to get recommendations from friends and family, other attorneys, or legal associations. Most defense attorneys will give you a free initial consultation. Have your list of questions in hand when you speak with prospective lawyers.

Here are the top 10 questions to ask your defense lawyer:

1. How Much Experience do You Have as a Defense Attorney? Ask how many jury trials the lawyer has handled. Although many cases are settled before a trial takes place, you want an attorney who has a strong track record at trying cases, in the event yours does go to trial. Also, many successful defense attorneys are former prosecutors, which can be an advantage in defending their clients, so ask if your lawyer has this experience.

2. How Many Cases Like Mine Have You Tried? Many criminal defense lawyers specialize in certain types of crimes. Ask what percentage of the practice is dedicated to your type of case—the higher the better. What was their success rate? You may also find that talking with the lawyer about cases similar to yours will give you a better understanding of your own case.

3. What Approach Would You Take With My Case? The lawyer should explain possible strategies to use for your case, and why. Are there other options for you besides going to trial, such as a plea bargain, or for a civil case, a settlement?

4. Do You Have Experience in the Court System Where My Trial Will Take Place? You want your attorney to know and have worked with the local judges and prosecutors. These relationships give the lawyer an advantage in negotiations and in predicting your case’s outcome.

5. Who Will Be Handling My Case? Many lawyers work with junior associates and paralegals, and may hand off some parts of the case to them. This is not unusual, depending on the complexity of your case. Make sure you understand exactly who will be doing what, and why. While you talk with the attorney, notice if he or she seems interested and asks good questions about your case.

6. What Fees Do You Charge? Does the lawyer charge by the hour or by a flat fee, and what are those charges? They will also likely charge for other expenses as well, such as expert witnesses if needed, or copies of documents. Ask for an estimate of these extra costs. Legal expenses can be high; ask if the lawyer offers a payment plan if you think you’ll need one.

7. How do You Communicate with Clients? Find out how often you’ll hear from your defense attorney or their associates with updates on your case. Make sure you’re on the same page with your lawyer about how you’ll be staying in touch.

8. Do You Have any Conflicts of Interest with My Case? The lawyer may not be able to represent you if they have a current or past client who plays a role in your case.

9. How Long Should I Expect My Case to Last? The lawyer should be able to estimate when your case may be resolved. However, there are many factors, such as whether it goes to trial or is settled, that can affect the length of your case.

10. What Should I Do to Help With My Case? Your lawyer can tell you what items will be needed, such as court documents, the police report, or lists of witnesses, and suggest what other cooperation you can give as the case moves forward.

Getting the answers to all of these questions will help you to find the very best defense lawyer for what you need. And once you are working together, these answers will have laid the groundwork for you and your attorney to be a team that will work smoothly together until your case is successfully resolved.

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