If you've been charged with a crime, it may seem like the end of the world. However, you should know that you are innocent until proven guilty and many people have been charged with crimes only to beat the charges with the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
There are many criminal defense attorneys to choose from. And in a major metropolitan area, you may literally be flooded with options.
Before jumping in and hiring an attorney, there are some steps you may want to take. These steps can help you understand your charges better and also give you an idea what to ask a prospective lawyer:
- Do some research. You don't need to go to law school to understand the basics of the charges brought against you. In fact, with the help of the Internet, you may be able to gain a working understanding of the charges brought against you and the penalties you could potentially face. FindLaw's Criminal Law Center is a good place to start. The time you spend educating yourself can help save you money down the road.
- Take advantage of free consultations. You know how lawyers frequently offer free consultations? Well, take advantage of these and talk to as many lawyers as possible. Sitting down for a free hour with a lawyer does not mean you have to hire him. And this may be a great opportunity to ask questions about your case, get some different perspectives, and get a feel for different lawyers.
- Sign up for a personal legal plan, get a discount on lawyers. There are many alternatives to traditional legal representation today. Some personal legal plans like LegalStreet offer unlimited phone consultations with a local attorney; when you need to hire a lawyer full-time to represent you, you can receive discounted rates as a LegalStreet member. Personal legal plans are often quite affordable; LegalStreet, for example, works out to less than $13 a month.
Once you do some research and compare a few different lawyers, you'll want to seriously consider which attorney you want to go with. To help you make your decision, check out some tips and questions to ask in FindLaw's Guide to Hiring a Lawyer.
(Disclaimer: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)
- You Have the Right to an Attorney, but What Does That Mean? (FindLaw's Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog)
- What to Do After You've Been Arrested (FindLaw's Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog)
- Why Do Lawyers Cost So Much? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)