When facing a criminal charge, even for a misdemeanor, your freedom and reputation could be at stake. This is no time to represent yourself or select a random lawyer with little criminal law experience. A criminal proceeding is serious, and you must choose your advocate with care.
You should look for the following qualities when selecting the best criminal defense lawyer in Dayton.
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Their Practice Focuses on Criminal Law
Passing the Ohio Bar Exam and obtaining a legal license entitles a lawyer to practice in almost any field of law. Some lawyers respond to this freedom by opening “jack of all trades” practices. This kind of lawyer will draft your last will and testament, litigate your contract claim, or defend you against a criminal charge.
Since your freedom is at stake, your best bet is to hire a lawyer whose practice focuses primarily on criminal defense law.
They Have Years of Experience in the Local Criminal Justice System
Ohio criminal law is somewhat different from the criminal law of every other state. It is also different from federal criminal law. Seek a criminal defense lawyer who has spent most of their career practicing in the jurisdiction that is prosecuting you.
It is also a good idea to seek a lawyer with experience in the specific location where you are facing charges – Dayton instead of Cincinnati, for example. A lawyer with extensive experience in Dayton will know most of the local prosecutors. They will also know most of the local judges. This kind of familiarity can provide your lawyer with insight into the thinking patterns of the major players in your case.
You Get Along With the Attorney
Some people naturally get on each other’s nerves and dislike one another at first sight. On the other hand, sometimes two people naturally hit it off. Look for a lawyer you easily get along with. Fighting a criminal prosecution is a joint endeavor between you and your lawyer. The better you two get along, the more effective and successful you will be.
They Have Extensive Successful Criminal Trial Experience
Some criminal lawyers specialize in the art of the plea bargain. While a plea deal might be the way to go under certain circumstances, even then, your lawyer needs some leverage with the prosecution.
A lawyer who settles 99% of their cases through plea bargains may lack the ability to win at trial. Ironically, this can result in an unfavorable plea bargain. Your lawyer’s lack of successful trial experience can deprive them of the bargaining power they need to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.
They Demonstrate Attention to Detail
A good criminal lawyer pays close attention to detail because a single component can make or break a criminal defense. If the lawyer is not attentive to detail, how likely will they defend you successfully? Pay attention to the questions they ask and whether they remember minor details you disclose. This likely indicates someone who pays attention and can effectively fight for you.
They Listen Carefully to What You Have to Say
In your initial consultation, how carefully is your lawyer listening to you? Remember, you have the right to make all the big decisions in your case. Your lawyer decides on strategy and tactics to the extent necessary to execute preferences that you determine. After all, your well-being and quality of life are at stake, not your lawyer’s. Tell your story, but ask questions to ensure the lawyer has listened closely to you.
You Understand What The Attorney is Saying
Effective communication is a hallmark of a good lawyer. If you cannot understand your lawyer, you cannot make effective decisions in your case. And if you don’t understand them, the jury might not understand them either.
They Care What Happens to You
A criminal lawyer who cares about you and your case can help you in a thousand ways that you might not even be able to name. Your lawyer should treat your case as if you were their own family member.
Your best bet is an attorney willing to devote time to researching your case and preventing you from getting lost in the shuffle. If they seem overwhelmed or heavily reliant upon assistants, they may be unable to represent your interests.
Pay Close Attention to the Lawyer’s Behavior
Ultimately, this is a judgment call. Use your head, but take your intuition into account as well. What is your gut feeling after your initial consultation? Did the lawyer arrive on time? Did they seem distracted? How much time did they devote to the consultation? If you are in jail, it is always a good sign if the lawyer is willing to meet with you at the jail.
They Provide Honest Legal Advice
You need a lawyer who is polite and respectful but who is not afraid of telling you the truth, even if it is bad news. Exaggerating your chances of winning at trial, for example, might tempt you to reject a plea bargain that might have shaved years off your sentence. If your lawyer sounds like a motivational speaker, get a second and even third opinion. You need to know what your chances are so that you can make appropriate decisions based on the facts of your case.
They Have a Good Online Reputation
With the Internet, the world is at your fingertips. Take advantage of this fact by using it to research your prospective lawyer’s reputation.
Following are some of the best places to look:
- The “Client Reviews” section of the lawyer’s website: Pay attention to what former clients say, not only whether their reviews are positive or negative.
- Avvo.com, a prominent attorney rating service: Since it lists lawyers, look up the individual attorney by name.
- Martindale Hubbell is probably the world’s most authoritative attorney rating service.
- The Ohio State Bar Association website lets you inquire about a lawyer’s disciplinary record and confirm whether they are entitled to practice law in Ohio.
Take the time to research your prospective lawyer’s online reputation thoroughly, and do not limit yourself to the above-listed references.
Start Seeking an Experienced Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyer Today If You’re Facing Criminal Charges
Criminal prosecutions move quickly. You wouldn’t want to miss a critical deadline or force your lawyer to hastily prepare a response to a motion. In a worst-case scenario, a sluggish response to a criminal prosecution could cost you years of your life in prison.