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Do you have a pending criminal case? Here’s what you should look for before hiring a Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer to handle your needs.
You may have hired an attorney in the past to help you buy a home. Maybe you hired one to craft your will. Or perhaps you hired one to assist you in an automobile accident. While those attorneys help in civil matters, you’ll need an attorney who practices criminal law when you’re facing criminal charges. Ideally, you’ll be able to find such specialized help locally. However, you may be limited to an attorney who practices both civil and criminal law if you live in a rural area.
Civil and criminal attorneys differ in many ways that go far beyond simple personality differences. Civil attorneys often work in large corporate firms with clients all across the country or even the world. Sometimes they may have representation via branch offices in several locations. Criminal defense attorneys, on the other hand, often practice in small partnerships or by themselves. Their clients are usually local.
Civil attorneys from big firms usually represent companies, and they typically provide representation and legal advice on a continuous basis. Criminal attorneys often represent individuals, and their services tend to be sporadic or on a one-time basis.
Criminal law has become so complicated that many attorneys concentrate on specific offenses in their practice. As you search for a criminal defense lawyer in Rhode Island, you’re likely to find ones who specialize in drug offenses. Others, meanwhile, may focus on drunk driving or some other area of criminal law. To get the best representation, you should look for a lawyer who has a history of representing clients with offenses similar to yours.
When you visit a lawyer for your initial consultation, do not hesitate to ask about their experience. For example, if you get charged with a drug offense, here are some questions you should ask:
You’ll obviously want to hire a Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer with the most experience as it pertains to your case. Most attorneys have years of experience in criminal law under their belt as a public defender or prosecutor. Such practice usually comes as a city or district attorney before practicing privately. If a lawyer refuses to answer your questions or avoids inquiries into their experience, take that as a red flag that should keep you from hiring them.
While experience is necessary to the successful handling of your case, so is your lawyer’s location. You should try to hire a lawyer who has experience in the courthouse where your case is pending. Even though some laws may remain the same statewide, courthouse procedures may vary from location to location. Local criminal defense attorneys may know how certain police officers behave in front of juries. Or they may know which prosecutors prefer to negotiate as opposed to pleading before a trial. Such localized experience regarding personnel and procedures is essential to ensuring your lawyer represents your case to the best of their ability.
The lawyer you’re considering may have extensive experience and recommendations. But if you do not feel personally comfortable with them, they may not be a good fit. Here are some questions you should ask in your initial consultation to assess your comfort level with the attorney:
Until you can answer all of those questions, you should avoid making a hiring decision. You want your Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer to see you as a partner who allows you to give input regarding your case. You do not want them to see you solely as another case file. The more comfortable you feel, the stronger your attorney-client relationship will be. Most importantly, the more peace of mind you will have until your case is complete.