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Guide: How to Choose the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Phoenix

If you live in the Phoenix area and are facing criminal charges, it’s crucial to secure legal representation as soon as possible. Even if you are guilty of a crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. Because of this, it is essential to thoroughly vet potential lawyers to ensure they can handle your particular situation. Many criminal cases touch on various practice areas and run in tandem with civil actions. Find an attorney who can handle the complexity of your case, because the wrong attorney can lead to a botched defense and long-lasting legal and financial complications.

The Orent Law Offices have the resources and experience to handle your case. We understand that Phoenix residents in need of criminal defense attorneys want to carefully weigh their options. Consider the following guidelines for choosing the best Phoenix criminal defense attorney and create a list of a few candidates for your case. The Orent Law Offices will likely wind up on your list. Reach out to our team to schedule a free case evaluation or for more information about our criminal defense firm in Phoenix.

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Qualifications You Should Seek

Time is certainly a factor in many criminal cases, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to accept the first defense attorney’s legal aid. Compare the most highly regarded and well-reviewed criminal defense firms in your area and meet with them to decide which one is right for your situation. Research several lawyers, and don’t schedule any meetings until you’ve narrowed down the list to your top two or three choices. While you won’t have much time to secure an attorney once the need for one arises, you should not rush your decision.

The first things to look for in an attorney should be:

  • Board certification – You want an attorney who has the necessary training and skill set to handle your criminal case.
  • Experience – Both as a criminal lawyer and in the particular area of criminal that your calls fall under.
  • Former Prosecutor – Experience on both sides of the courtroom can be invaluable.
  • Open Communication – You want an attorney who will get back to you promptly.
  • Familiarity with Phoenix Court System – Your attorney should be very familiar with not only court locations ( including the Phoenix Municipal Court and all Maricopa Superior Court locations) and process but the judges, clerks and prosecutors as well.

Choosing a lawyer is an important decision, so a process of elimination will help you narrow your acceptable choices. Choosing the wrong attorney can mean disastrous legal penalties, excessive or unjust sentencing, or even additional fines. Time is a factor in criminal cases, but it’s vital to avoid rushing the process and hiring someone unqualified.

Risks of Hiring a Poor Lawyer

Criminal charges are serious and can affect the future of those who the police have targeted. Their fate can depend on the quality of their legal representation. Succeeding in a criminal defense case sometimes means proving the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, a criminal defense attorney will need to demonstrate the client’s alibi to prove the defendant is not guilty of the charges in question. In some situations, a criminal defense attorney can help plea down to lesser charges with less severe punishments.

Hiring the wrong lawyer can mean poor defense and suffering the full punishments of the charges before a defendant – it can also be expensive. Even new attorneys do not bill cheaply, so a defendant who settles on an inadequate attorney could end up paying much more for shoddy legal defense than another defendant who takes the time to research options. A good attorney will get the job done to the best of his or her ability – the first time.

Questions to Ask a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney

When interviewing a potential attorney, ask how long he or she has been practicing. Also, find out how long this person has practiced the area of law under which your case will likely fall. For example, you may find an attorney with 20 years of experience in handling sexual assault cases, but that experience may not be used if you’re facing white collar crime charges. An attorney who has been practicing for a shorter time but with a greater focus on a more applicable practice area will be a safer choice.

Once you feel comfortable with the attorney’s experience level and specializations, ask who will be working on your case. Lawyers often work in teams and have many support staff members, including paralegals, legal assistants, and litigation clerks to assist in cases. It’s important that you know who will be touching your criminal defense case and in what capacity. If you are comfortable with the team that will be working on your defense, proceed by asking about the attorney’s billing structure.

Billing and Attorneys’ Fees in Phoenix Criminal Cases

A criminal defense attorney’s services are likely to be expensive, but it’s important for you to be able to justify the expense. While some personal injury attorneys and other attorneys who focus on civil actions may offer contingency fee payment plans, this is rarely the case with defense lawyers. Remember, defendants who cannot pay their legal fees will need to rely on a public defender or act as their own counsel, which is rarely advisable. Public defenders may provide the best legal counsel they can, but most public defenders handle multiple cases at a time and are often too beleaguered to provide the same quality representation as an attorney in a private firm.

If you are unsure about your financial ability to pay for legal services, ask potential defense lawyers for copies of their retainer agreements. Carefully read these documents and look for transparent billing structures. Some attorneys accept payment plans for people who don’t have the liquidity to pay all their legal fees at once. Once you have an understanding of how an attorney plans to bill your case, choose the one that feels best to you. Remember, unless you were wrongfully accused and suffered damages as a result or are planning a countersuit for some other reason, you will not receive compensation out of your case. Most plaintiffs in civil action cases pay their legal fees as a percentage of their case awards, but this is not the case for criminal defendants paying for legal services.

Criminal defense attorneys typically bill on a per-hour or per-day basis. Every case is different, and even a seemingly straightforward case can quickly escalate into a complicated legal entanglement. You want to trust that your attorney does the best job possible from the outset to avoid this situation and prevent you from having a long, drawn-out legal affair.

Look for Feedback

Online reviews and personal referrals from trusted relatives and friends are also valuable when vetting potential lawyers. If anyone you know has faced criminal charges in the past, ask about his or her experiences. Most law firms provide testimonials from past clients on their websites, and many third-party sites collate reviews for law firms. Take the time to research your options.

Bear in mind that online reviews are not always entirely trustworthy. Instead of trusting individual reviews, look for common themes among all the reviews. For example, if many reviews extoll an attorney’s simple, no-surprises billing structure, it’s probably safe to assume the lawyer is honest and transparent with billing. If you see lots of comments that indicate an attorney has trouble keeping clients’ cases organized, it may be a sign that the attorney is overworked or lacks the resources to handle another case.

You can also check with the State Bar of Arizona or the Maricopa County Bar Association to verify an attorney’s past and ensure he or she is a reliable choice. Your bar association’s local branch should have records of an attorney’s bar certification. It also provides legal services to anyone who needs them. The Bar Association website is a great place to begin narrowing down candidates for your Phoenix defense attorney.

After you have narrowed down your choices to two or three attorneys, take advantage of free case evaluation offers. Many attorneys offer free consultations to potential clients, and you can get a more accurate idea of what working with an attorney will be like after meeting him or her in person. Be sure to carefully review an attorney’s retainer agreement before signing and agreeing to representation.

Seek the Experts

At the Orent Law Offices, we are confident in our ability to provide comprehensive criminal defense in a variety of practice areas. We understand that Phoenix area citizens facing criminal charges have many options for legal representation, but we are certain that our resources, experience, and track record of successful cases demonstrate our legal acumen and commitment to client satisfaction.

Less experienced defense attorneys can easily overlook crucial pieces of evidence. Unless the lawyer was criminally negligent in the handling of a case, the defendant will have few options for repairing the damage done by an incompetent or unqualified defense attorney. The attorneys at the Orent Law Offices have an intimate understanding of the laws and the most appropriate defenses to criminal charges.

While it is vital that criminals receive just punishments for their actions, it is also important that those punishments fall within the boundaries the law permits. People facing criminal charges still have rights and are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal defense attorneys help ensure the justice system works as the law intends.

Don’t trust your future to an inexperienced or uncertain lawyer. Reach out to our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. We’ll examine the charges against you and the facts of the case to help you understand your options and what the trial proceedings will be like. The right attorney can shave years off a prison sentence, argue for less severe charges, and help get unjust or false charges dismissed. Time is critical in criminal defense, so call today to get started.