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What to Look For in a Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime of any sort can put a damper on your day, to put things lightly. Even if you aren’t convicted, you will likely spend time in jail, at least until you get bailed out. Then there’s arraignment, court dates and other events, all of which can force you to miss work for days, if not weeks, at a time. On top of that, you may miss bill payments, time with your family and other important factors of everyday life.

Relying on a public defender can often feel like you are left defending yourself. With so much at risk, it’s vital you find a criminal defense attorney who can represent you well. While your lawyer may not be able to get you off completely scot-free, they may be able to get your sentence reduced. Here’s what you should look for in a criminal defense attorney:

Plenty of Experience

The term “crime” covers a broad range of actions, from petty theft to white collar to murder. You need an attorney who has the experience representing clients that have committed crimes in the same vein as yours. For instance, if an attorney is known for representing clients who have been charged with driving under the influence, they probably won’t have much experience representing you if you’ve been charged with embezzlement.

If you can find a law firm with attorneys on staff with experience as a prosecutor, that’s even better. They have been on both sides of the aisle, and know exactly how the prosecuting attorney will try to attack and dismantle your case. Your attorney can prepare excellent defenses against this, or, if needed, come to a settlement before the attack really starts.

Knowledge of the Local Court System

shutterstock_184839455A recently-transplanted attorney can have all the technical knowledge in the world about how to properly defend you. But if they don’t know the local court system, you may still find yourself facing a harsher punishment than you should be. An attorney who has been in your local area for years knows the different judges and knows how to act in their courtroom.

That’s not to say they will bribe or coerce the judge. But, certain judges may be more lenient than others on certain matters. Some may look down at a client who isn’t in a full suit, while others are okay with you just wearing a polo shirt. In addition, some judges may simply dislike certain attorneys for one reason for another, and if the attorney representing you is one of those, they can have another lawyer from the firm come on to your defense team.

The Personal Touch

When a law firm grows too much and has branches all over the country, they may begin losing the personal aspect of taking care of a client. They may no longer ask how you are or about your family, mostly because they simply don’t remember you. You become a case number and sometimes a face, nothing more. When you’re looking for an attorney, ask yourself these questions: shutterstock_235278187

  • Does it seem like I can talk to my attorney about anything?
  • Does my attorney remember all the details of my case?
  • Does my attorney try to explain things so I can understand them?
  • Is my attorney worried about how the case is affecting my personal life?
  • Does my attorney seem like he actually wants to help me?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then that attorney may be a good match for you.

Here at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, we treat every single case with the personal care and respect it — and you — deserve. Our attorneys come from many different backgrounds and know how to properly defend you in court, no matter who the judge is. If you have been charged with a crime in Redlands, contact us today for a free case evaluation and to get started on your personalized defense.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.