Click to Schedule a Consultation
Colorado trial attorneys

5 Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP December 8, 2021

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, this is a very worrisome situation to be in. You may not know what to do or who to turn to for help. Fortunately, there are many qualified criminal defense attorneys in Boulder who can help you. However, finding the right one for you can be difficult. When you’re trying to decide who to hire, consider asking the following questions so you can try to determine who is the best fit for you and your case:

Do you offer a consultation?

When you’re first starting your search for a lawyer, it’s normal that you might want to interview more than one lawyer or firm so you can see who the best choice is for you and your case. Before setting up meetings, it’s smart to call and ask if they offer consultations. If a lawyer you are very interested in doesn’t offer a consultation, find out what they charge for an initial meeting so you can decide if you want to speak with them or not.

How long have you been practicing criminal defense?

One of the most important questions to ask of a lawyer you may want to hire is how long they’ve been handling criminal cases. If they’ve been practicing law in general for decades but have only been handling criminal cases for a brief period of time, this is something you want to really think about. Many other areas of the law simply don’t translate well when it comes to learning about criminal law, so the fact that they’ve been practicing for decades may not actually mean anything when it comes to handling a criminal case properly. Some criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors, and present that experience as experience with “criminal law.” It is important to ask such lawyers how long they have been practicing criminal defense, and to consider whether a former prosecutor, as opposed to an experienced career criminal defense lawyer, is the right attorney for you.

How often do you go to trial and how often do your clients accept a plea agreement?

It’s unlikely that a potential lawyer will have the exact statistics as to how many of their clients go to trial and how many accept a plea deal, but this is an important question to ask regardless. You want to know if they push plea deals on their clients of if they’re comfortable and willing to go to trial. In some cases, your best choice might be to plead guilty. However, you want to make sure that your lawyer is committed to supporting and empowering you to make the choice that is right for you. It is unhelpful to have an attorney who is uncomfortable or inexperienced going to trial. You don’t want to take a plea deal or a bad offer if your attorney has not had very much trial experience, and if they don’t seem like they are willing to go in that direction for you. A quick resolution to a case by accepting the first deal is not always the best solution, so find a lawyer who has the confidence and experience to do everything necessary to win your case.

How do you bill clients?

Many people are uncomfortable discussing money, but this is incredibly important. You want to know how much they’re going to charge you and exactly how the billing works. Do they charge a flat fee per hearing? Do they charge hourly? Do they charge more if the case goes to trial, or less if you accept a plea deal? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way for a lawyer to bill their clients, but you want to make sure that you have all the details, and that you have the opportunity to review and negotiate a written fee agreement before deciding who to hire.

How often will I hear from you and how will we prepare?

Another crucial aspect of finding the right attorney is making sure you find someone who actually has time to be in touch with you and prepare for your case. If you plan to testify, for example, you need a lawyer who is willing to meet with you in person – almost certainly more than once – to prepare you for testifying in court. It’s also important to know how easily you will be able to reach them if you have questions. Hiring a lawyer who is too busy to handle your case with the care it deserves is a recipe for disaster.

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today

If you have any questions or need to hire a lawyer for a criminal charge you are facing, don’t hesitate or delay. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better it will be for your case, as it gives them enough time to discuss and prepare your case effectively.