It’s the last thing you ever expected – being charged with a crime. And now the hunt begins for a Wake County criminal defense attorney in hopes of getting your case dismissed, a reduction of charges, or getting a not guilty verdict at trial. It’s overwhelming, and most people don’t know where to start. So how do you go about finding a criminal lawyer that will go to bat for you and fight his hardest to get you the best possible outcome? What’s the process for finding the best criminal lawyer in Raleigh?
Most of our clients have never been in criminal trouble before, so a lawyers number is not something they normally have stored in their contact list. While some people will ask friends if they know of someone, a lot of people are uncomfortable asking for a referral, so they turn to where most people look for information – the internet. What you will find if you are using Google or any other search engine out there such as Yahoo or Bing is that there are literally hundreds of criminal lawyers in Wake County. If you are doing a general search for an attorney, you will find thousands. To narrow it down, do the following:
1) Narrow your search to look specifically for a criminal lawyer in Raleigh or Wake County. If you have been charged with a crime anywhere in Wake County, court is downtown Raleigh, and the majority of high quality defense attorneys are within a stone’s throw of the courthouse. It’s important to search specifically for either criminal lawyer or a lawyer that has experience with your specific charge, i.e. “Raleigh DWI lawyer” or “Raleigh assault lawyer.”
2) The lawyers and law firms listed in the Google local listings are good first places to call. The local results usually show up in sets of 3, 5 or 7. The reason that these are good calls to make is that to get into these top results, it means that a lot of time is being devoted to creating valuable content on the firm’s website. This translates into content that is informative and helpful to you. If a firm invests time, money and effort into developing this information, it’s a good sign.
3) Look at attorney reviews. One of the great things about the internet is that there are many places for people to leave feedback about the experiences they’ve had with their attorney. If it’s good, they’ll leave a good review. If it’s bad, they let you know. Any attorney that you consider hiring should have a strong online review presence. Google reviews are important. Another great place to look at an attorney’s reviews is on Avvo.com, although be aware that an attorney’s rating on Avvo is not at all based on client reviews (strange, I know). If an attorney doesn’t have any reviews whatsoever, you might consider this a red flag. Attorneys want their clients to be as passionate about their results as they are, and they want those clients to share their experiences.
4) This is alluded to in item #1, but look for an attorney that specifically practices criminal law and that has experience in your type of case. I always say that I ONLY practice criminal law because it’s the area of law I want to know like the back of my hand. I get asked regularly if I can handle a civil case or help write a will, and I always say no. I don’t want to be a generalist that knows a little bit of every type of law, I want to be an expert at criminal law. It’s akin to physicians – you won’t find someone that’s both a heart surgeon and a brain surgeon. There’s just to much to learn and know about each and it would be very difficult to excel at both, so people specialize. An attorney should be able to give you examples of cases that he’s handled that are similar to yours (without disclosing confidential information) so that you know he’s got experience with your type of case.
There are so many other things that you’ll want to consider when making the final decision about who to hire for your case, and I’ve written about it in other posts, but this will at least get you started when you are narrowing your list of who to contact and potentially hire.
If you find yourself charged with a crime, feel free to reach out to me or my firm for a confidential consultation to discuss your case. I can be reached at 919-352-9411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.