Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you are charged with a crime, you need to find a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer quickly. Unlike lawsuits that can take years to resolve, the criminal justice system moves swiftly. You don’t have time to spare.
At the same time, you don’t want to hire just any lawyer. You need one with the right kind of experience who can defend your legal rights vigorously. The secret to finding this advocate is in the questions you ask before you hire a lawyer.
Many Baltimore criminal defense lawyers are willing to meet you in what is called an initial consultation. In this meeting, you can interview the lawyer to learn about his background and legal fees. At the same time, the lawyer will be interviewing you about your arrest to chart out the best legal strategy.
Ultimately, you can use your time at an initial consultation to figure out if this is the Baltimore criminal lawyer you want to hire.
Whether you are in Cross Country or Union Square or any other part of the city, your first meetings with Baltimore criminal lawyers will be more productive if you bring along with you some documents, such as:
- Your bail papers
- Anything you have that lists your charges and next court date
- A copy of the police report, if you have it
- Any other paperwork the police might have given you
You’ll remember the questions you want to ask – and the answers – if you write down your questions and leave space to jot notes. Below are dozens of questions you may want to ask. Don’t feel obligated to ask them all but choose among them to best suit your needs. Add some questions of your own as you see fit.
Background & Experience
A comfortable way to kick off a conversation with a Baltimore criminal defense attorney is to ask about his background and experience. Some relevant questions to ask include:
- How long have you been a lawyer? Where did you go to law school?
- How long have you been representing Baltimore clients facing criminal charges?
- How often have you represented clients facing charges similar to my own?
- How many clients do you represent at one time?
- How many criminal cases do you work on each year?
- Do you practice in other areas of the law? If yes, how much of your practice is devoted to criminal defense?
- Do you know the prosecutor in my case? How often have you appeared in the courthouse where my charges will be heard?
- How often do your clients plead guilty, either to the original charges or lesser charges? How many of your clients go to trial?
- How do you stay on top of changes in the law?
- Do you belong to any bar associations or other professional organizations? If so, which?
Assessment of Your Case
Among the many topics you will discuss at an initial consultation, an assessment of your charges and possible legal strategies may be the most important. You want to know what to expect as you head into court. Ask the Baltimore criminal lawyers you meet:
- Based on what you know, does the government have a strong case against me?
- What happens if I plead guilty?
- Should we take our chances at trial?
- Should I plead guilty to a lesser charge?
- Which factors work in my favor? Which work against me?
- Can you walk me through the process so I know what’s coming?
How a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer handles your case behind the scenes is called case management. This may seem inconsequential, but you need to know who at your law firm is doing what, when. Consider asking:
- Do you have time to represent me?
- Will other attorneys work on my case? What will they do? Can I meet them?
- Will you hire a private investigator? If so, what is his role?
- Will you be the one in court representing me?
- Who is my daily contact at the firm should I have questions? How do you prefer to be contacted? How fast will you get back to me?
- Will I get regular status updates? How often?
To better understand how your Baltimore criminal defense lawyer will bill you and how much your lawyer may bill you, ask questions such as:
- Do you charge an hourly rate. If so, how much is it?
- Will I have to pay a retainer fee, or deposit, when hiring you?
- Do you charge a flat fee. If so, what is it? What does it include? What is not included in the fee? Is it refundable if I want to switch lawyers?
- Besides the fees for your time, what other expenses will you require me to pay? How much might they total by the end of my case?
- What forms of payment do you accept? Do you offer any payment plans?
Hiring a Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney
With pending charges, you do not have much time. Still, you want to take a moment to consider all of the lawyers you met. If you only talked to one Baltimore criminal attorney, but you feel confident in his abilities, you don’t need to look further.
If, however, you are torn between two or more lawyers, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions:
- Which attorney seemed the most knowledgeable?
- Whose background was most solid?
- Whose advice did I like best?
- Whose legal fees seemed fair?
- With which attorney was I most comfortable?
As you answer these questions, your top choice should become clear. Once you have hired your Baltimore criminal defense lawyer, you are ready to face your charges.