How to Hire a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested, you should not face the criminal justice system alone. A Florida criminal defense lawyer should be by your side to navigate the process with you, ensuring you get the best possible results.
If youve never needed an attorney before, you may not know how to find one. This article will walk you through the process of finding and selecting a Florida criminal defense lawyer.
Using a Florida Public Defender
If you feel you cannot afford an attorney, you can apply to have a public defender represent you. A public defender in Florida isnt necessarily free. There is a $40 application fee, and if you are found guilty, the judge may assess you an amount to cover the cost of the public defenders office space, utilities, and janitorial services.
You need to apply for your public defender before your arraignment. If the court grants your request, you do not get a say in which public defender will represent you. If your case takes some time to wrap up, you may have several different public defenders representing you at various stages of the process.
If you do not qualify for a public defender, you need to carefully consider hiring a private attorney. If you are facing serious violations of Florida criminal law that could result in jail time, you need the help of a criminal attorney.
Finding a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are several ways to find a Florida criminal defense attorney. You can ask your friends, family members, and work colleagues to see if they have ever hired a criminal law attorney. If they have, ask what the experience was like and if they can recommend the lawyer.
If youre reluctant to explain your legal predicament with people you know, you have another resource at your fingertips. Attorneys.com offers a service that can connect you with a Florida criminal law attorney in your area.
Whether you are from Tampa or West Palm Beach or any other part of Florida, call us at 1-877-913-7222 or fill out the form on Attorneys.com. After you answer a few questions, well forward the name and contact information of a criminal defense attorney near you. You may contact the lawyer yourself, or he or she will get back to you within two business days.
Preparing to Meet a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Just because you have a name of a Florida criminal defense attorney or two does not mean you are ready to hire someone. You need to hire the right one. You can size up the Florida criminal lawyers at a brief meeting before you make your hiring decision.
You can actually accomplish a lot in this meeting. You can:
- Discuss your options and possible strategies
- Learn about the attorneys background and experience
- Most importantly, determine if this is the attorney you want to hire
Before you go, you should consider what qualities you want your attorney to have.
You probably want an attorney who has a lot of experience not only in criminal law but also with the particular charges youre facing. Youll need someone with smart advice and solid judgment, someone who earns your trust and confidence. So, write down some questions you'd like to ask to help determine if the attorney you're meeting has those qualities.
Make sure you bring those questions with you to your first meeting, along with some writing materials to record the answers and any notes you want to take. Many Florida criminal lawyers will also find it helpful if you bring several documents with you, such as:
- Your bail papers
- Any paperwork from the court showing your charges and your next court appearance
- The police report, if possible
- Any other paperwork you may have from the police
Also compile a list of the names of anyone connected to your case. This includes witnesses, victims, and co-defendants. The attorneys will want to be sure that they have never represented anyone tied to your case. If they have, they may decline to represent you because of a conflict of interest.
Meeting with a Florida Criminal Lawyer
When you get to your meeting with a Florida criminal defense attorney, allow him or her to lead the conversation. Dont just blurt out the circumstances as you see them. Many attorneys like to systematically go through the evidence the prosecutor has against you before getting your version of the events.
Listen carefully to the questions asked of you, and answer them directly and honestly. Florida criminal defense attorneys are bound by strict regulations that prevent them from repeating anything discussed with a client or a potential client. Even if you end up hiring someone else, your answers will be kept confidential.
When the lawyer has run through his or her questions, its your turn to do the questioning. As you ask your questions, take mental note of the lawyer responses. Does the lawyer have great command of the law involved? Does the lawyer explain unfamiliar concepts to you? Do you like the strategy the lawyer has proposed?
The first meeting is a also good time to mention any special needs you might have. For example, you may need weekend hours or communication in Spanish. Ask whether the lawyer will be able to accommodate you.
Selecting a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
After you have met the criminal defense attorneys on your list, it is time to choose one to represent you. If you only met with one but felt the lawyer was highly qualified-or you met with several but one was clearly the best choice for you-then your decision is an easy one.
If you cant decide between two or more lawyers, ask for the contact information for some previous clients. Then call them. Ask the clients what they thought of their attorneys and whether they would hire them again if they had to.
To help you choose one, ask yourself:
- Which attorney had the best advice?
- Whose strategy seemed smartest?
- Who had reasonable legal fees?
- With which attorney was I most comfortable?
Which attorney had the most experience with the charges I am facing?
The answers to these questions should direct you to your very best choice in a Florida criminal defense attorney. Once you hire him or her, you are ready to face the rest of the criminal justice process.
Connect with an Attorney nowCall 877.913.7222