Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer
It is unfortunately not always easy to find a good criminal defense
lawyer. Here are some suggestions:
Referrals - It may be possible to find a criminal defense lawyer
from somebody who is familiar with the lawyer's practice. For example,
if you regularly work with a lawyer or law firm, that lawyer may be
able to suggest a competent criminal defense lawyer in your area.
If your county is served by a public defender's office, sometimes
a defender's office will be willing to suggest a competent are defense
lawyer. If you have a friend or family member who has been in trouble
with the law, that person may be able to make some suggestions.
Courtroom Observation - You may wish to sit through some public
sessions of court while criminal cases are being argued. If you find
a particular lawyer's performance to be impressive, you may take note
of the lawyer's name and later contact the lawyer about the possibility
of representing you.
Professional Organizations - Each state, and some major cities,
have organizations of criminal defense lawyers. Some of those organizations
offer referral services or online directories, which you can use to
find a defense lawyer in your area.
Directories - There are a number of online directories which
include criminal defense lawyers, including the Iowa
Bar Association's Roster of Criminal Attorneys.
State versus Federal Charges - There are additional factors
you may wish to consider when hiring a federal criminal defense attorney.
After you have located one or more attorneys whom you wish to consult
about your case, call them to schedule appointments. (Find out at
that time if they offer a free initial consultation, or if you will
be charged for the meeting.) Try to speak with the criminal defense
lawyer over the phone before scheduling the appointment. Ask about
the lawyer's general experience with criminal defense, and any specific
experience with cases like yours.
Trust your instincts - if you aren't comfortable with an attorney
you consult, try a different office. You do not have any obligation
to hire a lawyer merely because you consulted with that lawyer. If
your lawyer is promising you that your case is easy, or makes promises
that you won't go to jail, speak to other lawyers before signing a
retainer agreement - some lawyers misrepresent the gravity of a defendant's
situation or the complexity of a case in order to entice the defendant
to pay a retainer, and then blame the judge or prosecutor when the
rosy scenario they initially promised turns out to be a nightmare.