There is often much at stake when facing criminal charges. It is most vital that you find a lawyer who can provide you with expert advice and obtain the best result. The court process can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, so having a lawyer whom you can depend upon is also of great benefit. Remember, you may be involved with your lawyer for many months.
There is an abundance of criminal lawyers in Melbourne, and many who offer quality legal services. Below are 5 points to assist you in finding the criminal lawyer who is right for you:
1. Use a Law Institute of Victoria accredited specialist.
In 1995, the Law Institute of Victoria introduced Specialist Accreditation for Criminal Lawyers. To gain accreditation, a solicitor must have practiced criminal law for a minimum of three years, and afterwards passed a comprehensive exam developed by criminal law colleagues. Maintaining accreditation then requires completing additional professional education every year.
When you engage an accredited specialist, you can rest assured that you have a leading criminal lawyer working on your behalf.
2. Ask who will be responsible for handling the case
When you engage lawyers, you do not want your case to be handled by different legal staff. This can easily create miscommunication, lead to confusion and missed information.
At your initial interview, ask whether the person you are meeting with will be handling your matter personally, or if not them, then who will be responsible for the running of the case. Ideally you want one person who will be across all of the relevant circumstances and issues, and being assisted by others where required.
3. Find a lawyer who will make themselves available to you
It might be difficult to tell how quickly a lawyer will respond to your calls and emails before engaging their services, but try to find someone who makes themselves available to you. Do you have their direct line / mobile number and email address? Are you queries answered within 24 – 48 hours, or does it take numerous calls to their office before they reply?
Engaging a solicitor who will take the time to speak with you when you have questions makes the process far less daunting and stressful. It also shows that they have your best interests in mind.
4. Find someone with experience
You would not hire a builder who had never built a house before, and the same logic applies when choosing a lawyer. Ask whether a solicitor has previously handled matters similar to yours, and what have been the outcomes of their cases. The greater a lawyers experience, the more aware they will be of the relevant issues and law.
5. Research lawyers and their reputations
An internet search of lawyers and firms will provide a quick impression of their reputations through reviews, forums and media. The best method of researching reputation though is simply to ask other lawyers or people who have used their services in the past what they think.
6. How do they charge their fees?
Generally there are going to be significant fees involved in any criminal case. The way lawyers charge their clients varies between firms, so you should ask from the outset how they intend to charge you through the entirety of your case. By law, they must advise their method of charging as well as an estimate of the costs involved.
Do not be afraid to gather a number of estimates so that you can make an informed decision about your representation, but always bear in mind that the cheapest option may not deliver the optimum result.
7. Assess whether you lawyer is really on your side
You do not want a lawyer who seems too busy, or that your case is not important to them. Worse, you definitely do not want a lawyer who judges you and your alleged behaviour.
Take the time to find a solicitor who will offer you a respectful and professional relationship as well as work with you to obtain the best possible result.