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Questions to Ask When Hiring a St. Louis Criminal Lawyer

If you want to find the right St. Louis criminal lawyer to defend you in court, you need to ask the right questions before you hire one. This article is chock full of questions you could ask a lawyer during the interview process of the attorney search.

Many criminal defense lawyers in St. Louis are willing to sit down with you to answer your questions. This first meeting is called an initial consultation, and most attorneys offer them for free.

The initial consultation is your chance to find out if a lawyer has the right kind of experience. You’ll also get some valuable feedback about your legal options and possible ways to handle your case.

Most importantly, you should be able to walk away from an initial consultation knowing whether the St. Louis criminal defense attorney you met is the one you want to hire.

Whether you are in Wells/Goodfellow or Mount Pleasant or any other of the city, you’ll want to make the most of your time at the first meeting. So bring with you several documents that will help the lawyers better assess your situation. Some documents to include:

  • Your bail papers
  • A copy of the police report, if you have it
  • Any other paperwork the police may have given you
  • Any document you have that lists your charges and your next court appearance date
  • A list of people involved with your case, such as witnesses, victims and co-defendants

Also bring the questions you want to ask. Feel free to select from the suggestions below, but do not feel obligated to use them all. Add more as you see fit.

Finally, pack some extra paper and a pen, so you can record the answers and jot down any notes you want to take.

Background & Experience

Because you are facing criminal charges, it’s important to find a St. Louis lawyer who practices criminal law. You’ll want someone with experience representing other St. Louis clients facing charges similar to your own. Some relevant questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • How long have you been practicing criminal law?
  • Do you take on other types of cases? If so, which? How much of your practice is made up of criminal cases?
  • How familiar are you with the laws that discuss my charges? How many clients have you represented who were facing similar charges?
  • How many criminal cases do you handle each year?
  • How often do you take your cases to trial? How often do you arrange for your clients to plead to a lesser charge?
  • How do you stay on top of changes in the law?
  • How often have you appeared in the courthouse where my charges will be tried?
  • Do you know the prosecutor in my case? How well?
  • Do you belong to any bar associations or other professional groups? If so, which?

Assessment of Your Case

You’ll want to know how airtight the prosecution’s case against you is or if you have any defenses that could get you out of your predicament. Ask the St. Louis criminal defense lawyers you meet:

  • What factors work against me in my case?
  • Which factors work in my favor?
  • Can we try to negotiate a plea agreement, so I can plead guilty to a lesser charge?
  • Should we take my case to trial?
  • What does the rest of the criminal justice process look like from here on out? How fast will it move?
  • What happens if I plead guilty?

Case Management

St. Louis criminal defense attorneys use the term case management to refer to how your case is handled behind the scenes. This may sound like just logistics, but asking a few questions can really prevent any misunderstandings down the road. Consider asking:

  • Are you available to represent me?
  • Will someone else work on my case? If so, who? May I meet them?
  • Will you be the one representing me in court and in plea negotiations? If no, then who will?
  • If I have a question, whom should I call? How do you prefer to be contacted? How soon can I expect a response?
  • Will I get regular updates about my case? How often? From whom?

Legal Fees

Most criminal defense attorneys in St. Louis charge their clients in one of two ways: Either with a hourly fee or a flat fee. They work just as you’d imagine, either charging you by the hour for their time, or one flat fee for the entire case.

However, you’ll be paying for more than just the Saint Louis criminal lawyer’s time. To get clarification on all that you will have to pay, ask questions such as:

  • Do you charge by the hour? If so, what is your rate?
  • Will I have to pay a retainer fee? How much is it?
  • If you charge a flat fee, what is it? Is it refundable?
  • What other expenses might I have to pay outside of your time? Can you give me an estimate for them?
  • What forms of payment do you accept? Do you offer payment plans?
  • When is payment due?

Hiring a St. Louis Criminal Lawyer

When you are done interviewing prospective lawyers, it’s time to make a decision on whom to hire. Remember, the criminal justice system moves quickly, so you don’t want to delay your decision. To help you decide, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which attorney seemed to understand the law best?
  • Whose background was the best match for my case?
  • Whose advice did I prefer?
  • Whose legal fees seemed fair>
  • With which attorney did I feel most comfortable?

It’s important you have the utmost confidence in your attorney. Once you have hired your St. Louis criminal defense lawyer, you can face the rest of your prosecution.