If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, choosing a defense lawyer to represent you is a decision that could impact the rest of your life. You need to make an informed decision, and you need to feel confident that your lawyer can represent you effectively. Here are 15 questions you can ask your lawyer – and yourself – in order to make your decision:
10 Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
1. Have you handled cases similar to mine?
While the judicial procedures and Constitutional protections that apply in criminal cases are largely the same regardless of the specific charge (or charges) involved, defending against allegations of drug possession, criminal domestic violence (CDV)and other crimes are entirely different matters. As a result, it is important to choose a lawyer who has specific experience handling your type of case.
2. Have you handled cases in the court where my case will be tried?
In South Carolina, different types of criminal cases are tried in different courts. Depending on the specific crime (or crimes) with which you have been charged, your case could be pending in a magistrate, municipal, or general sessions court. Additionally, judges and prosecutors in different counties can handle cases very differently, so you will want a lawyer who has specific experience in the court where your case will be heard.
3. Are you often able to negotiate favorable plea deals for your clients?
While prosecutors will often refuse to negotiate with defendants who are unrepresented, an experienced criminal defense lawyer should have a substantial track record of securing favorable plea deals. Although the outcome of a criminal case is never guaranteed, you will want to know that your attorney is capable of negotiating a favorable result if it is in your best interests to do so.
4. What penalties am I facing?
Your attorney should be able to tell you the types and amounts of penalties you are facing based on the severity of the crime (or crimes) with which you have been charged. In addition to fines and jail time, this may include various other types of penalties as well.
5. What types of defenses will you be able to use to protect me?
While your attorney will need to gather all of the relevant details prior to putting together a defense strategy, he or she should be able to provide a preliminary assessment of your potential defenses based on the facts discussed during your initial consultation.
6. What are my chances of avoiding a conviction?
Likewise, in order to fully assess your risk of being convicted at trial, your attorney will need to review all of the facts and circumstances involved in your case. However, he or she should still be able to provide a preliminary assessment based on his or her past experience in similar cases.
7. When can I contact you if I have questions?
You can expect your lawyer to have other clients, but you can also expect him or her to be responsive to your questions and concerns. When you call, text, or send an email, will you receive a prompt response if your lawyer isn’t available immediately? Will you be able to speak with your lawyer directly, or will you mostly be talking to a secretary or paralegal?
8. How much will it cost to hire you to represent me?
When it comes to legal fees, most lawyers offer either hourly or flat-fee representation. Regardless of how your lawyer bills for his or her services, you should be able to gain a clear understanding of how much you can expect to pay over the course of your case.
9. Am I eligible for a pre-trial intervention or diversionary program?
In South Carolina, pre-trial intervention (PTI) and diversionary programs offer opportunities for many defendants to avoid the life-altering effects of a conviction. Is your attorney familiar with these programs? How and when does your lawyer decide to recommend PTI or a diversionary program instead of negotiating a plea deal or fighting for a “not guilty” verdict in court?
10. What else do I need to know?
From the steps involved in your case to the hidden costs of a conviction, there are several other key pieces of information your defense lawyer should be able to provide you with as well. Ultimately, you want to choose a lawyer who is experienced and thoroughly knowledgeable about all aspects of defending against criminal charges in South Carolina.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Do you feel confident in the lawyer’s ability to represent you?
As a defendant in the South Carolina criminal justice system, it is important to have 100% confidence in your defense lawyer.
2. Do you feel like you will be able to establish a good working relationship?
Criminal defense representation requires teamwork between the attorney and the client. A good working relationship is important, as is the ability to get in touch when you need to.
3. Do you have a sufficient understanding of your case based on your initial consultation?
Based on your initial consultation, you should have a clear understanding of your charges, your potential sentence, and the steps you can take to assist with your defense.
4. Are you clear on the legal fees you will have to pay?
If you found it difficult to get a straight answer about how much you will have to pay for your legal representation, this probably means that it will cost more than you expect.
5. Are you prepared to do your part to help with your defense?
Finally, are you prepared to do your part to help your attorney present the strongest possible defense? Even the best lawyer cannot handle your case effectively without your involvement.
Schedule a Free Consultation with North Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer Rad S. Deaton
If you are facing a criminal charge (or multiple criminal charges) in North Charleston, criminal defense attorney Rad S. Deaton can help you avoid unnecessary consequences. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, please call 843-225-5723 or get in touch online today.