Penalties for a criminal conviction can be severe, and may include fines, court costs, and even jail time. When the stakes are high, you need a Michigan criminal defense attorney at your side who will fight hard to protect your rights. When choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your case, it’s important that you choose an attorney you can trust, who has the experience to get the job done, and who will be there for you, not just as an attorney, but as a confidante.
When choosing a Michigan criminal defense attorney, qualifications and experience are important factors to consider. Before scheduling a meeting with an attorney, look them up on-line and research their background, experience, and qualifications. If you have friends or family members that you trust and feel comfortable asking, see if they have any recommendations about a potential attorney for your case.
Of course, any attorney that you choose to represent you in a Michigan criminal case must be licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan. But just because an attorney is licensed doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the right attorney for your case, or for you. Just like you wouldn’t go to a dentist for a heart problem, you don’t want an estates and trust attorney who has never set foot in a courtroom handling your criminal case. If you’ve been charged with a crime, look for an attorney who has experience handling criminal defense cases.
Once you’re narrowed your search to a handful of attorneys, call their offices and ask to schedule a meeting. During the meeting, be prepared to ask some general questions, like:
During the meeting the attorney will ask you questions about the specifics of your case. Once the attorney has a sense of the criminal charges you’re facing, ask them how they’d handle a case like yours. Of course, every case is different and an attorney's assessment will change as they learn more about the facts and circumstances of your specific case, but a good attorney should be able to give you a general overview of the process, what they would do, and the steps they would take. They should be able to point out potential problems you might need to anticipate, and should have a general strategy for how they would move forward.
It’s also important that you understand how and how much you will pay for their services. Some attorneys handle criminal cases on an hourly basis, while others charge a flat fee. Some attorneys will even handle some cases for an hourly rate, and others for a flat fee depending on the type of case and its complexity. It is not unusual for an attorney to ask for a certain amount of money up-front to handle a case if it results in a plea bargain, and to require additional money if you choose to take your case to trial. Regardless of the specific fee structure, make sure that you understand the attorney’s fee agreement, when payment is expected, and how much you owe. To be sure you understand, consider asking:
During your meeting with a potential criminal defense attorney, evaluate whether this attorney is someone you trust, and who you feel cares about you and your case. Trust is a cornerstone of the attorney-client relationship, and your attorney owes you duties of confidentiality and loyalty. You may need to discuss items of a personal nature with your attorney, and you need to feel comfortable having those conversations. Remember that any attorney you meet with is bound by duties of loyalty and confidentiality, even if you do not ultimately hire that attorney to represent you.
Finally, when choosing a criminal defense attorney, choose someone who you believe will give you the personal attention that you need and deserve. You should never feel like your case is ‘just another file.’ In large offices, you may meet with a senior partner only to have your case passed off to a junior associate. During your initial meeting, ask whether your case will be handled by the attorney himself, or whether it will be handled by someone else in the office.
I’m criminal defense attorney Robert Elmen. If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime in Michigan, I can help. I invite you to read reviews from former clients, to get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and to contact Elmen Legal today by calling (734) 707-8915, emailing Robert@elmenlegal.com, or completing the online form.
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