The Denson Firm

How to Find a Good Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

If you are facing criminal charges, the most important question to ask yourself is how to find a good criminal defense attorney in Florida. Knowing how court proceedings will unfold in a criminal case is impossible. You may think your charges will be dropped or you will get off easy on a first offense, but often, that’s not how things turn out.

Knowing how to find a reputable attorney is even more important if you are facing serious charges. A criminal conviction can put you behind bars for years and leave you with thousands of dollars in fines. Furthermore, criminal charges stay on your record forever, preventing you from obtaining work, renting an apartment, and more.

Not all criminal defense lawyers are the same. For the best possible outcome for your case, you need to know how to find a skilled lawyer with the experience you need for a winning defense.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

Your criminal defense attorney is the primary determining factor in how your criminal case unfolds in court. From the moment you enter custody, the police and the prosecutor are working to build a case against you. Anything you say can be used against you.

As your criminal defense lawyer works on your case, they may:

  • Speak on your behalf
  • Advise you on what to say or not say
  • Investigate the crime
  • Examine the evidence collected by police and prosecutors
  • Investigate whether police followed proper procedure
  • Fight for your rights if police violate them
  • Identify the possible arguments that will be used against you
  • Create compelling defense arguments to counter the charges
  • Successfully have your charges dropped or reduced
  • Obtain community service or probation instead of jail time
  • Secure a reduced sentence

Your criminal defense attorney is the one person on your side throughout the legal process. They represent you throughout your case, helping ensure you do not make statements or answer questions that can be used to convict you. All of your lawyer’s skill and experience go into fighting for the best possible outcome for your case.

Essential Qualities to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

When trying to find a good criminal defense attorney, it is essential to understand the qualities you want in a lawyer. Not all criminal defense lawyers possess legal experience and skill in the courtroom. Some lawyers are happy to take your money without caring much about whether you end up spending years in jail.

Qualities you should look for when hiring a criminal defense lawyer include:

  • A long practice history
  • Evidence of successfully defending past clients
  • Courtroom experience
  • Experience in the area of criminal law your charges fall under
  • Positive client testimonials
  • Clear, prompt communication
  • Compassion for your situation
  • Willingness to fight aggressively for your rights

You want to look for a lawyer who knows what they are doing, can prove they are good at their job, and is passionate about fighting for a client’s freedom.

Researching Potential Attorneys: Where to Start

A Florida criminal defense attorney talking with a client

There is no one right way to find a good criminal defense lawyer in Florida. One approach to avoid is simply searching the internet and choosing one of the first results that pop up. Sometimes, law firms pay substantial amounts of money to appear first in search results. These results often have a term like “sponsored” above the posting, letting you know they paid an advertising fee to appear first.

While reputable criminal defense attorneys can appear high in a search result list, there is no guarantee that the best lawyer for your case will appear first. Instead, a more strategic approach to locating a good lawyer is to use resources such as:

  • Online legal directories
  • Legal association websites
  • Referrals from friends, colleagues, or trusted online sources

You can usually find substantial online information about a lawyer’s credentials and track record. This information allows you to build a list of the best candidates.

Evaluating Credentials and Experience

If you have never hired a criminal defense lawyer, you may not know what to look for as you peruse online information. Criminal defense requires on-the-job learning. A lawyer with 20 years of experience usually brings more to your case than one who has only been out of law school for a year.

Factors to consider while looking for a lawyer include:

  • How long they have practiced criminal defense law
  • How long they have practiced in your geographic area
  • How long they have been at their current law firm
  • The size of their firm
  • The quantity and type of case results posted on their website
  • Awards, distinctions, and legal association memberships
  • Online reviews and rankings in online legal directories
  • Whether they can demonstrate success in cases similar to yours

Regardless of how impressive a lawyer might look, it’s important to identify whether they are right for your case. An experienced defense attorney with decades of experience and glowing reviews might sound great until you realize most of their experience is with white-collar crime, and you need a lawyer who knows DUI defense.

Considering all aspects of a lawyer’s practice history helps you choose the one most likely to be helpful with your charges.

Scheduling Consultations: Questions to Ask

After researching and identifying the best potential lawyers for your case, your next step is to schedule a few initial consultations. This is an opportunity to meet the lawyers and hear what each has to say about your case.

Consultations are similar to job interviews. The goal is to learn about the candidates and identify who you think is best for the job. Different defense lawyers may have different things to say about strategies for your defense, what they think your possible outcomes will be, and how they can help.

You can make the most of your consultation by preparing questions in advance. This helps ensure you don’t miss anything essential. Questions to ask during your consultation include:

  • Have you handled cases like mine, and how did they turn out?
  • What is your approach to handling a criminal defense case?
  • What strategies would you use for my defense?
  • Do you think you can get my charges dropped or reduced?
  • Do you think you can help me obtain reduced sentencing or probation?
  • Will you personally be handling my case?
  • What is your fee agreement?
  • What is your process for communication and case updates?

Do not hesitate to take notes during your meeting. It can be difficult to remember the details of what each lawyer says, especially if you attend several consultations. Prepared questions and detailed notes will come in handy when it is time to consider your options and choose which lawyer you will hire.

Understanding Fee Structures and Agreements

Criminal defense attorneys typically charge clients for their representation using one of two fee structures:

  1. hourly fees or
  2. retainer agreements

With an hourly fee agreement, a lawyer sets an hourly rate and bills the client for all time spent on their case. Fee structures typically charge clients for every moment of a lawyer’s time, including court appearances and phone calls. The amount a criminal defense lawyer charges as an hourly fee varies by attorney.

A retainer agreement involves paying a flat fee for the lawyer’s representation. The retainer fee covers all the work they do in your case. How much a lawyer charges for a retainer also varies by firm. Case type also typically impacts the fee. More complicated cases or serious charges usually involve higher retainer fees than simpler cases.

In some cases, a retainer may only partially cover your legal services. For example, if your case runs into complications that make it take longer or additional charges are filed against you, the retainer may not extend to the extra work involved. However, your lawyer should let you know about which situations might lead to the need for additional payment.

At The Denson Firm, we understand that committing to a criminal defense lawyer can be a major financial decision. We also know that amid the stress of criminal charges, paying for legal consultations can add to your emotional and financial burden. We offer free phone consultations, allowing you to save time and money as you work to identify the best defense attorney for your case.

Reading Reviews and Client Testimonials

A person leaving a 5-star review on a laptop

Online reviews and client testimonials are some of the most valuable resources at your disposal as you vet potential criminal defense lawyers. Unbiased, third-party reports on the quality of a lawyer’s reputation allow you to hear firsthand from other individuals who chose to hire a certain lawyer.

Reviews of a criminal defense attorney are rarely lukewarm. If a lawyer significantly helped a client’s case, they’re usually quick to express their gratitude online. Conversely, if a lawyer obtains poor results or doesn't care much about their client’s legal outcome, that is reflected in online reviews.

The Denson Firm has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Google, showing that across the board, our clients have overwhelmingly positive feedback about the results our firm obtains. Our client testimonials show in detail the results we achieve and what the process of working with our firm looks like from the client’s perspective.

Making the Final Decision: Factors to Consider

Once you have finished attending consultations with your potential attorneys, the final step is to compare the options and choose one to handle your case. Your choice of criminal defense lawyer will have a life-altering impact on your future. The right choice may lead to having your charges dropped entirely or significantly reduced. The wrong choice might leave you behind bars, possibly for years, with charges on record that follow you for life.

As you weigh the pros and cons of each attorney, you should consider:

  • Opinions on getting charges dropped or reduced
  • Opinions on likely case outcomes and sentencing
  • Legal strategies for building your defense
  • History of success with similar cases
  • Fee structure and cost
  • Genuine interest in you and your legal outcome
  • Communication style
  • Personal comfort level

What a lawyer says to you about your outcome and their defense strategy should be key considerations. At the same time, your lawyer will be by your side through the case. Personal factors like whether they are warm, considerate, and a clear communicator are also essential to ensuring your case goes smoothly.

Partnering With The Denson Firm for Your Defense

Identifying how to find a good lawyer becomes much easier when you know what to look for in a criminal defense attorney. Whether this is your first criminal offense or you have faced charges in the past, The Denson Firm boasts decades of experience and a long track record of successful criminal defense. We bring a commitment to personal, effective legal advocacy to every case we handle.

Contact The Denson Firm today to schedule a free phone consultation with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney.

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