With over 100 criminal defense attorneys in the Anchorage and Palmer, Alaska area, finding someone you trust to handle your case can seem overwhelming. You or a loved one may be facing criminal charges for a DUI, a first drug offense or more severe circumstances such as felony assault or theft.
Hiring a criminal attorney is an excellent first step. Being arrested and charged with a crime is serious and can have severe effects on your life.
Your attorney will give you a quick summary of:
- The charges you’re facing
- Your possible defenses
- Any plea bargains you could expect
- What might happen after your trial or worse case, after your conviction
But you’ll need more than a short conversation. You need to have someone on your side to skillfully represent you and explain what is going to happen with your case.
What To Look For From a Criminal Attorney?
Here’s a road map to help you find the right criminal attorney – someone you can work with who will provide sound legal advice and stand up for your rights.
Step One: Check For Experience With Criminal Defense
Find out how much of the attorney’s work is in criminal defense. Some attorneys may handle only a few criminal cases a year, while others specialize in criminal law. Choose an expert.
Depending on the crime, your case may be tried in a state court or a federal court. The two court systems have different processes and laws. Make sure your attorney has the right experience for your case.
Ask questions such as:
- How long have you been a criminal defense attorney in Anchorage?
- How often do you appear in the court where my case will be heard?
Step Two: Look For Familiarity With Your Type Of Case
After you confirm your attorney is experienced in criminal defense, ask about the charges they most often represent. You’ll benefit from working with an attorney who has in-depth knowledge about how to defend against your charges.
Be direct with your questions, asking about topics such as:
- Do you have experience with DUI cases in Anchorage?
- How many DUI cases have you had in the past year?
- Are there any significant problems with my case?
- What are my options for defense? Do you recommend I plead guilty, consider an agreement or go to trial?
- How often do your cases go to trial?
Step Three: Find Out About The Local Courts
State laws are the same everywhere, but each courthouse (and its legal team) has slightly different procedures. Some attorneys are firm about not taking any plea deals. Others may negotiate bargains before trial, and still others may wait until the last minute to consider their options.
An attorney familiar with these local practices will be better able to represent you in the system. Local attorneys are also more likely to know the police teams and how they interact with the courts.
Your questions could cover topics such as:
- Do you know the judge handling my case? What do I need to know?
- Who is the prosecutor? Will a plea deal be possible?
Step Four: Determine If You Will Work Well Together
Your attorney will be speaking on your behalf. It’s important you feel comfortable talking openly and understand what your attorney is advising you to do. Your attorney will be your partner during your case, and good partnerships are based on trust.
Ask yourself these questions as you interview attorneys:
- Does this attorney seem genuinely concerned about me and my case?
- Is this attorney listening to what I have to say, and do I understand what this attorney is telling me?
- Will this attorney be considered a good representative by the judge, the prosecutor and the jury?
Step Five: Talk About Fees
You’ll need to ask how it will cost to handle your case. Attorneys usually charge hourly or flat rates. For hourly rates, you’ll pay for the time spent on your case. For flat rates, be sure to find out what’s included, since some attorneys charge additional fees if your case goes to trial.
Your questions should cover these areas:
- If it’s an hourly fee, ask how much per hour? Will I have to pay a lump sum before you start?
- For flat rates, ask what is included? What’s not included? Must I pay the entire amount before you start? Is any of the fee refundable?
- Are there any other expenses I might have to pay? How much would those be?
If you’re facing criminal charges in the Anchorage or Palmer, Alaska area, contact Gayle J. Brown. She’s the right attorney to partner with when you’re headed to court.