Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney
A good Missouri criminal defense starts with an experienced and skilled attorney. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you should start looking at Missouri defense lawyers immediately.
Although it’s important to hire a Missouri criminal law attorney as soon as possible, you also need to choose the right attorney to defend you. This article discusses the questions that will help you choose an attorney who is a good match for you and your defense.
The Initial Consultation with a Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your first meeting with an attorney is called an initial consultation. Not all Missouri defense lawyers are the same, and you should have a consultation with each lawyer you’re considering before you make a choice. The first meeting is usually free, so you have the chance to learn about an attorney and discuss your case without spending any money.
Prepare for each consultation by:
- Collecting all the documents you have about your case, like your arrest report and letters from the court
- Having a pen and paper handy to take notes
- Making a list of questions to ask the lawyer
Your questions are the most important part of any consultation. When you prepare questions, focus on topics that will help you choose a Missouri criminal defense lawyer that suits you and your case.
Topics to Discuss with Missouri Defense Lawyers
Experience: The attorney you choose needs to have a strong background in Missouri criminal law and defense. To learn more, ask:
- How long have you been a Missouri criminal defense attorney?
- Do you only practice criminal defense, or do you work in other areas of law?
- How many cases have you defended?
- Are you a member of the Missouri Bar Association or the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys?
- What percentage of your cases go to trial?
- How often do you plea bargain, or settle without trial, criminal cases?
- How familiar are you with the judges and prosecutors we will face?
Your Case: The lawyer will ask you to explain your case, and you should ask questions to learn about his approach. To learn more, ask:
- What are the strong and weak points of my defense?
- What are my legal options?
- What defense strategy do you suggest?
- What are the possible results of that strategy?
- What happens at each stage of my defense?
Case Management: Questions about case management help you learn how a lawyer will work on your case. To learn more, ask:
- Will you or another attorney in your firm be handling my case?
- Who will represent me in person?
- Are there other members of your staff who will be working on my case?
- What will each of them do for my defense?
- May I meet everyone who will be working on my case?
- How often will I get updates?
- If I have questions, whom can I contact?
- How long does it take to get an answer to my questions?
Cost: You need to choose an attorney you can afford. Most Missouri defense lawyers charge by the hour although some may charge a single flat rate for routine matters. Rates vary based on experience and location. For example, a lawyer in downtown St. Louis may charge more than one in Joplin, while a lawyer with five years of experience may be more affordable than one with 20 years.
To learn more, ask:
- How will you charge for your time?
- How much is your hourly rate or flat fee?
- Are expenses included or extra?
- What do you estimate my total charges will be?
- How often will you send me a bill?
- Do you offer payment terms?
Additional Questions: Don’t forget to ask about any other topics that are important to you. For example, if you have special requirements, like a disability or health issues, or if you can only meet with an attorney during certain hours, you should discuss those topics during your meeting.
Choosing a Missouri Criminal Law Attorney
When your meetings are complete and you’ve asked all your questions, it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Evaluate each attorney you’ve met and see how each fits your needs. You should consider:
- Which attorney had the best knowledge, experience and skill in Missouri criminal law?
- Which attorney had the most reasonable fees?
- Which attorney had the most intelligent and sensible defense strategy?
- Which attorney made you feel the most comfortable?
- Which attorney is the best match for you and your case?
You may be able to choose an attorney after reviewing these topics. If you’ve having trouble, more information may help.
Contact the attorney or attorneys you’re considering and ask any additional questions you have. You may also ask for client references. Sometimes the opinions of former clients can help you learn if an attorney is right for you, and many Missouri defense lawyers will give you references if you ask.
Make sure you are confident and well informed, and then choose an attorney to present your defense.