If youíve been charged with a crime in Philadelphia you’ll need to find a competent criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve never had reason to hire a criminal defense lawyer in the past, you’re probably wondering how to know are capable of representing you. The easiest way is to meet with them to discuss your case.
Most Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers are willing to meet with potential clients to review their case. The initial discussion is called a consultation, and they’re usually free, but it’s best to confirm this is the case before booking an appointment.
At initial consultations the lawyer has an opportunity to learn about your case and you have an opportunity to ask questions. What you want to learn from questioning the lawyer is if he or she has experience dealing with cases like yours. You’ll want to know too what legal options are available to you. Of course you will also want to know what the lawyer’s services will cost.
To get the most out of your consultation with a PA criminal defense lawyers make sure you bring all of the paperwork that relates to your charges, as well as the date and time of your next court appearance. Bring the police report too, if you have it, and any paperwork relating to your release on bail or your own recognizance.
Consultations give the Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer you are talking with the opportunity to look over your documents and get a feel for your case. Likewise, you have a chance to learn about the lawyer and decide if he or she will be the correct choice to defend you. You will want to learn how long he or she has been a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia. You should also find out if the lawyer takes on other kinds of cases and, if so, what kind. If at all possible, you want a full time criminal defense lawyer, rather than one that divides his or her time between other fields of lawy, such as will preparation and probate or conveyance of real estate titles. Successful Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers rarely have time to involve themselves with other fields of law.
You should also find out how many criminal defense clients a lawyer represents each year on average, and if any have involved the same kinds of charges you are facing. You’re looking for an experienced criminal defense lawyer, so the busier he or she is, the better. It’s helpful if the lawyer knows the prosecutor in your case, so ask. Also, you’ll want to know how often the lawyer arranges plea bargains compared to going to trial. Prosecutors will generally opt for a trial if they’re up against a weak Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, but be more open to a plea arrangement if the lawyer is a capable opponent in the court room. On the other hand, too high a ratio of plea bargains to trials suggests the lawyer would sooner plead a case than defend a client in court.
Remember, that while you’re trying to get a feel for the Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, he or she is doing the same with you and your case. The lawyer will ask you questions that he or she needs the answers for to determine if yours is a case that should be plea bargained or taken to trial. The lawyer is also assessing the amount of time it will take to go through the entire process, be it a plea deal or trail. Lawyers can only take on so much work, even if they have an entire law firm behind them, so they need to weigh your case against what they may already have on the go. By the end of the initial consultation the Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer will know if he or she can take on your case and have a very good idea of how to proceed. You should know too if the lawyer you are talking to is the one you want defending you if he or she agrees to represent you.
In the event a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer agrees to take your case, do not commit right then and there. Take a few days to research the individual lawyer and his or her law firm. You want to look into past cases that the firm took on that were similar to yours, and of course what the results were. Once you are satisfied you have found the best criminal defense lawyer in all of Philadelphia to take on your defense, then commit.