December 6th, 2022

Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, it’s vital to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Doing research and asking questions can help you choose an attorney who’s right for you. The defense attorneys at Gross McGinley, LLP are always happy to answer any questions potential clients may have.

How Long Have You Practiced Criminal Law?

While everyone must start somewhere, an experienced defense attorney likely knows how to strategize and anticipate possible moves by the prosecution. A seasoned lawyer should have a deep understanding of criminal law and can advise you on what to expect throughout the process. Many criminal defense lawyers have worked as prosecutors as well, so they can analyze your case from multiple perspectives. You may also want to ask about their education, whether they hold any special criminal law certifications, and whether they’re part of any professional organizations.

Have You Handled Cases Like Mine Before?

It’s important to find a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the charges you’re facing. Defense attorneys often find a niche in one particular area of criminal law. For example, if you’ve been charged with a drug crime, ask what types of drug cases they’ve handled and whether they have experience representing defendants at trial. Hiring someone who’s successfully handled cases like yours can give you peace of mind and may result in a better outcome. Don’t hesitate to ask what their success rate is for your specific type of case.

Do You Have Trial Experience?

In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain may be your best bet for a fair outcome. If your case goes to trial, you want an attorney who has the skills to present an aggressive defense in front of a judge or jury. Any good criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, advise you of your options and possible outcomes, and offer their thoughts on whether taking your case to trial would be beneficial.

Are You Familiar With the Local Courts?

It’s extremely helpful to have an attorney who knows local law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, clerks, and court support staff. A Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney who has been representing clients in the court where your case is heard will have a better idea of what to expect and how to construct your defense. If they have longstanding relationships with prosecutors and judges, they may know strategies that could work to have charges reduced or dismissed. If you’re facing federal criminal charges, make sure to hire an attorney who has experience representing clients in the local federal district courts.

Who Will Be Working on My Case?

Building a strong defense takes teamwork. Paralegals, assistants, administrative professionals, and other lawyers will likely work on your case. These professionals will be your main points of contact and give you updates as your case proceeds. However, even if they have a dedicated team, ask your attorney how much time they will be spending on your case, how often you’ll communicate, and which methods of communication are best.

What Is Your Fee Structure?

Make sure to ask how a criminal defense lawyer’s retainer and hourly fees are structured and which types of payments they accept. You may end up paying more for a skilled, experienced attorney, but exceptional legal representation is well worth the cost. Before taking you on as a new client, typically a lawyer will have you read and sign an agreement that outlines the scope and nature of representation, attorneys’ fees, who’s responsible for court fees and other costs, and other important details specific to your case.

What Will My Role Be?

It’s also important to ask what a defense attorney will need from you. A criminal defense lawyer will probably ask you to provide any evidence you have and advise you not to speak to anyone else about your case. Being honest is also crucial – remember that your attorney’s job is to protect your rights and act as your advocate. Whether you go to trial is ultimately your decision, but it’s always good to carefully consider the advice your attorney offers.

Contact a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, the defense lawyers at Gross McGinley, LLP can help you understand your rights and options. We’re dedicated to providing top-notch legal services with integrity, compassion, and tenacity. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call us at 610-820-5450 today.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.