In this day and age, legal advertisements are everywhere – on TV, online, and plastered onto the sides of buses and Trax trains. Furthermore, if you have been charged with a crime, you have likely received solicitations by mail from lawyers seeking to be hired. With so many choices, finding the right lawyer for your case can be overwhelming. With the possibility of severe penalties such as jail time, this is a decision not to be made lightly. So where do you begin?
First, make sure the attorney is well-versed in criminal law and knowledgeable about the particular area of law concerning your case. For instance, if you are charged with a DUI, it would be smart to hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. Your prospective lawyer should be able to answer all of your questions and explain all stages of the process, including the nature of the charges, any available defenses, and any plea bargains or other deals the prosecution may offer. It is very important to make sure you are comfortable talking to the attorney openly and honestly – remember that anything you talk about with your lawyer is confidential. This is necessary in order to get the best possible outcome when you go to court. You should also discuss the fees you will be charged, and make sure you thoroughly understand the payment agreement. The cost of hiring a lawyer varies, and generally depends on the complexity of the case.
With this checklist in mind, chances are, you know somebody who has been in a similar situation before. A word-of-mouth referral from a person you trust can be invaluable, so ask around. Family, friends, coworkers, and the like may be able to recommend a good criminal defense attorney that they have hired in the past. Ask questions, and if the attorney seems like a good prospect, set up a consultation to further explore their suitability. Fortunately, most attorneys offer an initial consultation free of charge, so before you make any decisions, you can meet the prospective lawyers face-to-face to discuss your case and to get a feel for whether or not they will be a good fit for you.
If you can’t find a referral through people you know, another way to find a prospective attorney is through the Utah State Bar’s lawyer referral service, which can be found at: https://www.licensedlawyer.org/.
You will be able to search for a lawyer by practice area and county. The search brings up information about each lawyer, including location, contact information, and years of practice.
Another online resource for finding a lawyer is LegalMatch, which can be found at: www.legalmatch.com
This website allows you to go into more depth about your circumstances and provides you with the capability to compare attorneys so you can choose which one will serve you best. You will fill out a series of questions about your case, and then you will receive emails from attorneys who are interested in working with you. Furthermore, you are provided with background information and fee structures for all of the attorneys that contact you.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it is important to do your research before hiring an attorney. Choosing the right lawyer to represent you and be your advocate in court could be the difference between a plea bargain and jail time, so choose wisely.