Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near You
You have learned recently that you are under federal criminal investigation. Or perhaps you have been indicted by a federal grand jury and are facing federal criminal charges. What is the best way to find the federal criminal defense lawyer to defend you?
Some people may believe that choosing an attorney is similar to choosing a doctor. That is, one type of physician to cure whatever ails you. This is not the case, either in medicine or law.
The legal world is highly specialized, and if you are charged with a federal crime, you want to have an attorney who is very experienced in the area of law that concerns the alleged crime. After all, federal charges are very serious and you could be looking at many years in federal prison, if convicted.
What’s more, a federal case means that you are fighting the US Attorney’s Office and they have tremendous financial resources and experience at their disposal. So, choosing a top attorney for this type of serious case is vital.
Keep these facts and tips mind as you are looking for the best federal criminal defense lawyer for your case:
Why a Federal Case Needs A Special Attorney
Federal crimes are very complex both legally and factually. Federal cases can be harder to defend in theory because federal prosecutors have investigative support from various federal agencies, such as the FBI , ATF, DEA, IRA, EPA and others. Also, federal agencies can seek help from state law enforcement who work on prosecuting federal crimes.
Expertise in Federal Criminal Law
Above all, it is very important to hire an attorney who is experienced with federal criminal laws. You do not want however an attorney who is experienced with federal civil litigation, nor do you want an attorney that works mostly defending state criminal charges. And of course you do not want an attorney who has never worked in a federal courthouse.
Federal criminal charges feature high maximum sentences and big financial penalties. Further, federal prosecutors often are highly competitive and aggressive; they really want to win the big case.
Also, unlike states attorneys, federal prosecutors are not usually overloaded with cases. They can afford to spend a great deal of time on one investigation – yours.
Federal judges also expect attorneys for both sides to be well prepared and do not deal well with delays. For each of these reasons, you want to have an attorney who has tremendous knowledge of the federal criminal process.
You want a federal defense attorney with a history of successful results. Of course, at the federal level, what ‘successful’ means can vary. Consider these factors:
- If you are still under federal investigation and have not been charged, then the best result is where you are not charged.
- If charges already have been brought against you, but you are innocent or there is a lack of evidence, a good outcome is winning at trial. The best outcome in this case is to convince the prosecution to drop all charges.
- If you did violate the law and the prosecution can convict you, the best result would be to avoid a long prison term.
As you are talking to potential attorneys to represent you, you should investigate how good their track record is in the above scenarios, depending upon what your personal, best case result would be. Naturally, the result of a prior case does not predict what will happen in yours, but it is reasonable to ask an attorney about his earlier experiences and outcomes in similar cases.
Honesty and Integrity
When you are dealing with possible federal charges, having an attorney who is open and honest is important. For example:
- Does the attorney make promises that sound unrealistic? Being charged in a federal case is very stressful and it is easy to be attracted to a lawyer that promises the best outcome. However, beware of an attorney who over promises, especially one who promises the prosecutor will drop the case. Your attorney cannot control the actions of the federal prosecutor.
- Does he claim to have a good relationship with the judge or prosecutor? Be on the lookout for lawyers who claim to be cozy with stakeholders in the case. It is legitimate for him to say that he has worked with a prosecutor before, but he should not claim that he has personal influence with that person.
- Does the attorney give you a pessimistic outlook on your case? This may not necessarily be a bad thing. Some federal charges are serious and difficult to overcome and it is good to have a sober assessment of your chances from an experienced federal defense attorney. If he does deliver bad news, see if he offers a realistic plan forward to get you the best outcome.
Many defense attorneys will handle many types of federal criminal cases, but as mentioned above, you want to work with one who has experience in cases with your types of charges. For example, if you are charged with drug trafficking, you want to to have a federal criminal defense attorney with years of experience on federal drug crime cases.
Area of Practice
The federal defense attorney that you hire should be very experienced in fighting for clients in the court where your trial will be held. If it is a federal case, your attorney needs both experience and a specialized license to operate in the federal court system. It also is helpful if you hire an attorney who practices in the local area and knows most of the judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals.
Before hiring a defense attorney, you should investigate their background either on the Internet or via an attorney’s association in your region. If they have a lengthy record of success in terms of plea bargains and verdicts, you will feel much more comfortable having them represent you. By spending several hours doing research and checking references, you will be more likely to obtain the best federal lawyer for your criminal case.
Fees and Charges
Most federal lawyers will offer you a complimentary consultation so that they can look over the case and give you an idea of what the cost will be. Of course, the costs of fighting a serious federal charge are substantial, but hiring a top lawyer can save you jail time, penalties and restitution.
Many people are surprised at what a good federal criminal defense can cost. You should not, however, look for the lowest bidder when years of your freedom are at stake. Hourly fees that attorneys quote you will sound high, but they can be entirely justified if the attorney is highly skilled and experienced.
In summary, hiring a good federal defense lawyer is essential for federal charges, and hopefully this will help you find the best attorney for your case.