Facing criminal charges for offences can potentially be a very emotionally stressful and unfamiliar experience. To mitigate such anxieties, it is often imperative to hire a good criminal lawyer to handle your case so as to ensure the best possible outcome.
This article therefore seeks to help you discern whether a criminal lawyer is a good one that you should hire. More specifically, what are the qualities of a good criminal lawyer?
1. Possesses the Experience Specific to Your Case
The criminal lawyer you intend to hire should have relevant experience in your specific type of case. This is because different criminal lawyers have different areas of specialisations.
For example, some criminal lawyers may not be familiar with white-collar crimes as their practice is focused more on the commonly-known street crimes. Therefore if you have been charged with a white-collar offence, you should look for a lawyer who has experience handling white-collar offence cases.
In order to ensure the best possible outcome for you, it is important to hire a criminal lawyer with the relevant experience in handling cases involving offences similar to what you have been charged with.
2. Advises You on the Benchmark Sentences for Your Offence(s)
A good criminal lawyer should have a good grasp of the sentencing benchmarks for various offences. The courts have come up with sentencing benchmarks for certain offences, such as drink-driving or outrage of modesty involving victims under 14 years old. While benchmarks are not meant to be inflexibly followed, you can expect your sentence to be guided by them.
The benchmarks may not always be in the form of mandatory prison sentences. They could be community-based sentencing regimes such as a mandatory treatment order (MTO), and/or probation. Knowing this may affect your decision on whether to plead guilty given that the sentence you face might not be imprisonment.
For example, you do not wish to plead guilty to the current charge after learning of the sentencing benchmarks for it, you could consider other options such as seeking a plea-bargain with the prosecution through your lawyer or claiming trial.
Your criminal lawyer should therefore advise you on the benchmarks (if any) for the offence you’ve been charged with, so you have a better idea of your options and what your eventual sentence may be.
3. Gives You a Transparent Breakdown of Fees
A good criminal lawyer should be able to give a transparent breakdown of fees for the full range of services he plans to offer you.
This breakdown should include itemised fees such as the cost for representing you and the cost for the day spent in court.
4. Values Being Upfront, and Honesty
Lastly, a good criminal lawyer should be upfront and honest with you.
For example, he/she should tell you very clearly that any statements you’ve already given to the police will be difficult to challenge on grounds that you were threatened into, induced to, or promised something in return, for making them.
This is as opposed to the lawyer getting your hopes up and helping you to challenge the statements in court when he/she knows such challenge is likely to fail.
Additionally, a good criminal lawyer would reciprocally expect you to be upfront and honest with him/her on what you have done.
For example, if you hide aggravating facts (such as previous criminal convictions or the severity of your actions) from your lawyer, your case might be adversely affected during trial or in the process of a mitigation plea should the prosecution raise such facts.
As officers of the court, a good lawyer would encourage you to be transparent and come clean from the onset so he/she can ensure the best possible outcome for you.
While the aforementioned qualities of a good criminal lawyer are not meant to be exhaustive, the presence of such qualities in a criminal lawyer would tend to suggest that he/she is a good and suitable lawyer for you to consider engaging.