Most people facing criminal charges are terrified, and they need help. Even if you're innocent, the law can be intimidating to navigate without an experienced attorney by your side. The good news is that finding a lawyer is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. But with so many websites and billboards out there, how do you know which lawyer is best for your needs?
Here are five questions to ask before hiring a criminal defense attorney.
Do you charge for an initial consultation?
An initial consultation is an opportunity to meet with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case, determine if they are the right attorney for your case and get an idea of what legal representation will cost. Some attorneys offer a free consultation, and others charge a fee.
To schedule a free consultation with a Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney, call The Ambeau Law Firm at 225-330-7009.
During an initial consultation, you should expect to learn about the charges against you, potential defenses, and how long it could take for your case to be resolved. It's also important that the attorney explain the process and next steps.
Try interviewing multiple attorneys before deciding on legal counsel. It is important that the attorney you hire to represent you is experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Have you handled a case like mine before?
Before you hire a criminal defense attorney, it's important to ask about their experience with your type of case. If you are accused of murder, rape, drug trafficking, or another crime that carries severe penalties, ask your attorney about their experience with these cases, including their success rate and how often they have fought these charges in a trial.
If an attorney has previously handled similar cases and won them, they likely know which arguments will work best for your case. The criminal defense attorneys at The Ambeau Law Firm specialize in complex criminal defense, including federal criminal defense and forensic DNA interpretation. With more than 40 years of combined courtroom experience, attorneys Jarrett Ambeau, Ryan Volo and Brant Mayer have represented clients facing various charges through trial.
How often do you appear in the courthouse where my case will be heard?
Experience with a specific case can be as important as having experience in a particular jurisdiction when it comes to criminal defense. You want an attorney who knows the courthouse, and you want one who has been to the one where your case will be heard often. Location is as important in criminal defense as it is in real estate. Be sure to ask the criminal defense attorney you are interviewing how often they appear in the courthouse where all of the hearings, proceedings, and potentially a trial, will take place in your case.
If your attorney frequently appears in court in a particular parish, they likely have working relationships with prosecutors that may benefit your fight in court.
The attorneys at The Ambeau Law Firm are in court every weekday in East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Iberville, West Baton Rouge, and Pointe Coupee Parishes.
How often will we communicate?
The criminal justice system works slowly - often much slower than our clients would like. Ask your potential criminal defense attorney how and how often they will communicate with you regarding your case. It is not enough to simply see your attorney in court. As developments arise in your case, you will likely have questions. Is it best to call the office, email, text or stop by?
Find out how often your attorney plans on communicating with you. If the answer is "not very often," this could be a red flag that they don't have time for the case or do not prioritize keeping their clients updated. You want an attorney who takes pride in their work and wants to ensure all of their clients understand what is happening at all times and why certain decisions are being made by both sides of the court system.
The Ambeau Law Firm utilizes the latest client management technology to manage client communication, including court date reminders and status updates. All messages are delivered via call, text or email, depending on the clients' preferred contact method.
Who else will be handling my case?
Often, when you hire a criminal defense attorney, you are hiring a law firm. Ask about the other attorneys at the law firm and who will be in charge of your case. It is important to understand that the principal attorney, or person who has their name on the building, may not be the attorney who shows up to court with you. It's better to know this ahead of time than be surprised when you do not recognize or even know the person representing you in court.
When interviewing your potential criminal defense attorney, ask about the other attorneys in the firm, their experience, and their criminal defense background.
Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
It is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges or are under investigation by law enforcement. A good lawyer can help you understand the facts of your case, your options, and the next steps. An experienced criminal defense attorney can also advise you on avoiding mistakes that could hurt your case in court or lead to more serious problems later on down the line, like losing your job or property.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney is a big decision - one that may greatly impact your finances and freedom. Make sure that the criminal defense attorney you hire can answer all of these questions before you make your final decision, sign a contract and pay them your hard-earned money. You want someone who will fight for your rights but also understands the mental and emotional toll of fighting criminal charges.