Around 86,000 people get booked into New Jersey jails every year. People get charged with various crimes in the state, from drug-related charges to domestic violence. Getting hit with a criminal charge in New Jersey can be overwhelming and scary.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense attorney in New Jersey will have experience in a variety of cases. They’ll know how to create a solid defense on your behalf, helping you navigate the process.
This guide will discuss the top seven questions you need to ask when hiring an attorney. Set yourself up for success if you’re facing a criminal lawsuit.
1. How Long Have You Been a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Experience is important when hiring a criminal defense attorney. While being a new criminal defense lawyer doesn’t mean that they’ll be a bad one, there are countless benefits of hiring an experienced attorney. A lawyer who’s tried many criminal defense cases can advise you on what happens through each stage of the process.
An experienced lawyer will also know what actions or strategies the prosecution will try to employ. They’ll use that information to craft a solid defense strategy.
In addition to having multiple years of experience, the attorney must specialize in criminal law. Some of the areas of expertise a lawyer could possess include:
- Traffic violations
- Sex crimes
- Drug possession
- General Defense
You should look for an attorney that is focused on the type of crime you’ve been charged with.
2. Do You Offer Free Consultations?
You should schedule consultations when hiring a lawyer. These appointments give you a chance to tell them about the details of your case. You’ll also see if you and the attorney connect on a personal level.
Some of the items you’ll discuss with a potential criminal defense lawyer during the consultation include:
- What happened during the arrest?
- Do you have a defense or an alibi?
- What charges you’re facing
- Your criminal history
- Your life, educational, and employment history
The attorney will review the specifics of your case, determining if they can provide you with an adequate defense. They’ll also let you know how much their fees would be to represent you.
3. How Much Do You Charge?
While you want to hire an experienced lawyer that’ll resolve your criminal charges, you want to choose one that you can afford. The last thing you want is to create a financial problem for yourself. A potential attorney should give you a straight answer when you ask how much their fees are.
There are a few different ways a criminal attorney calculates their fees. They include:
- Hourly basis with an initial retainer
- Flat or fixed fee
Working with an attorney that charges on an hourly basis can be unpredictable. They might burn through your retainer quickly, resulting in you needing to pay additional costs. You’ll know how much your legal fees will be when an attorney charges a fixed cost.
Some things that might affect the cost of your criminal case include:
- The severity of criminal charges
- Prior criminal history
- The length of time of the case
4. How Strong Is My Case?
While you might want to know what your chances are of being found guilty or not guilty, a reputable lawyer shouldn’t promise specific results for your case. You should be apprehensive of any attorney that guarantees a specific outcome.
However, an attorney that’s knowledgeable in criminal law can assess how your case might play out. The lawyer should be able to identify the weaknesses and strengths of your case. They should use this information to devise an effective defense strategy.
5. Who Will Be Handling My Case?
Many people hire expensive criminal defense attorneys, spending a large amount on their retainers. When their court day arrives, the attorney they thought they hired doesn’t show up. Instead, a younger associate from the law firm is the one that represents them.
You should expect other people in the law firm to work on your case, such as paralegals and junior associates. However, you want the attorney you hired to be the one representing you in court. They should be making the big decisions when it comes to your case.
You should also ask the attorney how often they’ll appear in the courtroom during the legal process. Your lawyer should have a good relationship with the judge assigned to your case.
6. How Can I Get Ahold of You?
Being charged with a crime is stressful. Questions and concerns might pop up in your head throughout the day and night. You want to find an attorney that you can get ahold of when you need them the most.
You and your attorney must find the best mode of communication that works for both of you. This can include getting their cell phone number or email address. Finding out what communication route they’ll respond to the quickest will help ease your worries.
7. What’s My Role?
You should know what your role during your trial should be. A good defense attorney will let you know what’s expected of you during the process. They’ll let you know if you’ll be expected to testify during your trial.
Your attorney will also let you know if you need to gather any documents or evidence for them to use during your trial. They might also want a list of witnesses that can testify on your behalf.
Partner With a Reputable Criminal Defense Attorney in Newark, NJ
You shouldn’t have to navigate the criminal trial process alone or with an inexperienced public defender. A criminal defense lawyer can build a strong defense on your behalf. They’ll help you find the best solution possible for the lawsuit that you’re facing.
Maduabum Law Firm is here to assist you with navigating your criminal lawsuit. Our legal team has a wide range of experience in the field. Contact us to schedule a consultation in Newark, NJ.