Anyone facing criminal charges knows that this time is scary. Facing the full weight and budget of the state is daunting and seems hopeless. However, picking the right criminal defense attorney can make a difference.
What is at stake?
Money, time, reputation and an ability to work or get an education are what are at stake. Legal fees, court fees and fines are seldom minute. Time refers to time away from family to fight, and if convicted, time away from family in jail. Reputation refers to one’s reputation after being charged and after conviction. Unfortunately, because of our current media culture, reputation cannot be fixed without good counsel. Although if convicted, one’s ability to become employed or receive an education is hindered. Often, employers do not hire those with convictions, and sometimes, schools will not enroll them, and if they do, student aid is often unavailable to those with convictions.
For criminal charges at the state and federal level, if one cannot afford an attorney, a public defender is appointed. Unfortunately, these public servants are overworked and underpaid. Plus, they simply do not have the resources available to the state when it comes to expert witnesses, investigators, etc. Although one may not want to solely use a public defender, often, public defenders can provide referrals.
Friends and family
Another way to find a good criminal defense attorney is through family and friends. If they have gone through a similar experience with a good outcome, they can provide a referral.
There are lawyer-specific websites that contain Greenville, Mississippi, reviews, but Yelp and Google also have attorney reviews. This can help give a baseline for attorneys, but beware that the only people who usually do reviews are those who are extremely angry or happy. This means that online reviews are often skewed and are not always accurate.
Education and history
Local bar associations usually have attorney profiles that can give potential clients referrals and backgrounds on attorneys. Understanding if they have complaints against them can be helpful, as can be where they went to school and how many years they have practiced.