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How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney

handcuffs and gavel

As criminal defense attorneys, ESJHM knows that we will always have another criminal case. But as a criminal defendant, you’ll probably have only one criminal case in your entire life.

Facing a criminal charge, whether only a misdemeanor or even a serious felony, is one of the most terrifying times in a person’s life. Because when you’re charged with a crime, your freedom, your future, and your family are suddenly in jeopardy.

And so it’s time to shop for an attorney – the kind of purchase that you will make only once. It’s not like other big decisions that you may do several or even many times in your life, and that others around you will have done. This is a decision that you make once, on your own, and often without anyone else to help you who has been through it before.

But unlike other purchases you make, the decision about where to purchase legal services is likely the single most important decision you make when charged with a criminal defense. There are no do-overs, and you can’t afford to wait and see how things work out.

Over the years, Hacker Murphy has had calls from many people who tragically found out too late that they had made the wrong decision, and are now seeking an attorney to straighten out a mess. Their experiences have gotten us wondering: how should people select the best criminal defense lawyer?

Roles of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Of course, the attorney has to aggressively fight to win on behalf of the client with police, prosecutors and courts. And to do these things effectively the lawyer must know the facts of the case, the applicable law, and how those two things fit together.

But the lawyer has another important role as an educator. A good lawyer is able to explain the relevant legal principles to the client, and to explain how the facts of the client’s own case interact with that law, so that the client understands the legal position just as well as the attorney does. A client can’t be expected to know everything about legal matters in general, but it’s the criminal defense attorney’s job to make sure the client completely understands all the legal principles at play in the client’s specific case, and the interplay between that law and the specific facts of the client’s case.

In other words, a big part of the lawyer’s job is to educate the client, so that the client understands the situation in the case the client is facing. Only in this way will the client be able to intelligently make decisions along the way, like whether to accept or reject a particular plea bargain, whether evidence might be able to be suppressed, whether the case can be dismissed, or whether to go to trial. This takes time, and if a lawyer you talk to doesn’t seem willing to take the time to hear what you have to say, there’s a problem.

Shopping for a Criminal Defense Attorney

Our advice is to call the attorney you think you might want to work with. Don’t settle for only talking with an intake service, a receptionist or a paralegal. If you’re going to spend the kind of money that a good attorney charges, you deserve to talk to an attorney at the firm you’re considering who works on the kind of case you have.

And when you do speak to an attorney, ask yourself:

  • Is the attorney listening to what I’m saying, and are they taking the time necessary to understand me and my situation?
  • Is the attorney relating to me the relevant legal principles affecting my situation, does the attorney understand those legal principles, and is the attorney explaining them to me in a way I can understand?
  • Has the attorney taken the time to listen to me explain the facts of my case, can the attorney relate those facts back to me in a way that demonstrates that understanding, and is the attorney able to explain how my facts are impacted by the relevant law?
  • Is the attorney able to explain a basic game plan for the representation? Have they given me a realistic expectation of what the next steps will be, so I can evaluate progress in the case if I do decide to retain the attorney?
  • And most importantly: does the call feel like just some sort of sales pitch, or am I talking to someone who really seems to understand my situation and cares about how this all works out for me?

Just like any other service you might purchase, there will always be people out there who want to get your money by using scare tactics (“Hire us or you may end up in prison!”) or false promises (“I guarantee I can make this go away!”) or minimization (“Your case is no big deal!”), but you should know that the ethical rules and laws that govern lawyers prohibit statements like these. No lawyer can guarantee a result. A good lawyer will give you a reasonable assessment of where you stand, and what you can expect in the future.

How Hacker Murphy Can Help

Our criminial defense team guarantees is that we will always listen to you. We will explain your legal situation as we see it, and give you our honest assessment. We’ll tell you about the approach we’ll take if you decide to hire us. And we’ll always guarantee that we will do our best for you, and will always work our hardest, to make sure you get the best outcome possible for your specific circumstances.

In the end, you will probably only ever have one criminal case in your life, and so you’ll only ever need to hire one criminal defense team to help you. Whether your charged with a federal crime, or a state crime involving drugs, theft, driving while intoxicated, or something else, trust Hacker Murphy to be the right choice.

Contact us or give us a call at (518) 284-3183 and find out how we can help you now. Consultations are always free.