So you need to hire a criminal defense attorney in Michigan? If you’re like most people, this is not a common occurrence. If you’re looking to hire a criminal defense attorney, here are some things we think you should be considering . . .
Is the lawyer a generalist or does the lawyer focus on criminal defense?
Many people who advertise as handling criminal defense cases are really general practitioners who take anything that comes through the door. That used to be the way that virtually everyone practiced law. However, as criminal laws have become more complex and the government has developed new tools to catch and prosecute people, it has become necessary for lawyers to focus their practices in order to allow them to become expert at the issues that are important. So ask the lawyer what percentage of his practice is criminal defense?
How much is the fee that the attorney is requesting?
You will find that fees for criminal defense attorneys vary wildly. However, among the attorneys who focus on criminal defense, there isn’t quite as much of a disparity. That’s because attorneys who do criminal defense and do it well know how much time is required to defend a case. If you’ve found a lawyer who is “cheap” or “affordable”, try to consider how much time the attorney will be able to spend on your case for the fee that he’s charging you. Consider that the lawyer has to pay for his office space, secretary, insurance, car, books, research materials, suits for court, etc. The overhead for a law practice adds up quickly. Many attorneys spend their time chasing the next fee instead of working on your case. If you’re hiring an attorney, you deserve someone who will work hard on your case.
How many jury trials has the lawyer conducted?
If a potential criminal defense attorney tells you that he doesn’t run jury trials, you should be concerned. If you’re innocent, you need a lawyer who can try the case to a jury. Even if you want to enter a plea, a lawyer who pleads everything out leaves value on the table. While it is true that many cases resolve by plea bargain, a criminal defense attorney can’t force a plea deal that is beneficial. The reality is that in defending against criminal charges in Michigan, there are times when the prosecutor doesn’t make a plea offer or doesn’t make a plea offer that provides actual benefit to the client. In those situations, you absolutely need a lawyer who can present the case to a jury.
What sort of training does the lawyer engage in?
In Michigan, lawyers aren’t required to do any continuing education after they pass the bar. However, the best criminal defense attorneys engage in constant continuing education through groups like the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, NACDL, and the Trial Lawyers College. This shouldn’t require much explanation: laws change. As an attorney, if you’re not constantly engaged in education, you’re going to miss out on law changes that are beneficial to your client.
Will you be able to have contact with your attorney?
Some law firms make it difficult to reach your attorney. If your life and freedom are on the line, you should be able to contact him or her. We intentionally keep our caseloads low so that we can be available for our clients. We provide our cell phone and e-mail addresses to clients. We want our clients to be able to reach us when they have questions or concerns.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and would like to meet with one of our Michigan criminal defense attorneys to discuss the matter, please give us a call at 616-773-2945 or use the contact form to send us a message.