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Archive for June, 2010

What Should You Look for in a Defense Lawyer?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

When you’re facing criminal charges, choosing the right defense lawyer becomes one of your most powerful, life-changing decisions. Whether you’re charged with white collar crime, drug crime, federal crime, or a sex crime, a quality defense attorney can mean the difference between rebuilding your life, or facing consequences that span a lifetime.

So how do you choose the right defense lawyer to help you through this difficult time?

Credentials That Count
Experience counts when it comes to choosing a good defense lawyer. But how do you know what sort of experience to look for? There are a number of associations and other professional groups to which a truly serious criminal defense attorney will belong. These include:

  • Membership in the statewide criminal bar. For instance, here in Pennsylvania, it’s the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. From our practice, Stanton D. Levenson was actually a founding member and past president of this organization.
  • Membership in the national criminal bar: the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
  • Membership in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. This is by invitation-only, selecting from a small group of criminal defense attorneys nationwide.
  • Inclusion in the Super Lawyers directory for your state. For our practice area, it’s the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers directory.
  • Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America directory.

Strong Reputation Among Clients and Fellow Attorneys
The best way to find a talented criminal defense attorney is a lot like the way you might find a good doctor— ask people you know and trust to give you a referral. Talk to lawyers you know, and find out who they would recommend. A criminal lawyer with a positive reputation in the legal field says a lot about how he or she will work with you and handle your case.

Good Communication
Being charged with a crime can be a lot like waking up in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Your defense lawyer has a responsibility to demystify this process for you, in terms you can understand. This means not only explaining the issues that concern you, but also taking the time and having the patience to answer all your questions. Just think: if your defense lawyer is unable to explain important information clearly to you, how will that lawyer present critical information to a judge and jury?

Ability to Work Together
The results of your criminal defense affect your life. With so much at stake, it’s vital to choose a defense attorney you feel comfortable with. Remember, during this time you and your criminal defense lawyer must be a team. You want a lawyer who will treat you as an equal, and not be dictatorial with you and your case. Remember, you are the client.

A Caseload That Gives Your Case the Time it Deserves
Find out how many cases your potential criminal defense lawyer takes on at a time. If he or she is juggling many cases at once, you may find that attorney has little time to devote to your case. That’s why in our practice, we intentionally keep the practice small, working diligently with a limited number of cases at a time. This assures Stanton D. Levenson will have the time needed to dedicate to each individual case– and that makes a huge difference to our clients. Make sure your case isn’t just another number for your lawyer.

When Looking for a Defense Lawyer, Ask Yourself:

  • Are all my questions being answered in ways I understand?
  • Do I have confidence in my defense lawyer?
  • Is my criminal defense attorney giving me the time my case requires?
  • Does he or she belong to the important criminal defense associations in the field?
  • Is my attorney experienced, with a positive reputation among clients and peers?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” your criminal defense lawyer might not be the right fit for you. So contact us. We’re here to make a difference.