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Should I talk to the police before hiring a lawyer?

No. If you are suspected of a crime or have been arrested, you should exercise your right to remain silent. Always be respectful to law enforcement personnel, but do not put yourself at risk by making statements that could be misconstrued or used against you in a court of law.

Should I hire a criminal defense attorney before spending money on a bail bondsman?

People often want to get their loved ones out of jail as quickly as possible. The magistrate may set a bond that requires thousands of dollars to a bondsman to get the person out of jail. Save your money for a good attorney. Your loved one has a right to have the bond reviewed by a judge at their first appearance. The Scharff Law Firm has had success at getting bonds substantially reduced, saving the family thousands of dollars. If a bondsman is required after the bond hearing, the bond fee may be lower because there is an attorney of record in on the case.

How do I know which attorney to hire?

Bondsmen will often have attorney’s cards present at their offices – and some people call these attorneys. Other people will choose an attorney based on the professional looking website that the attorney has paid thousands of dollars for someone else to write for them. One of the best ways to find an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh is by sitting down with them face to face, and establishing a connection with them. It is best to do this with two or three different attorneys to examine your options prior to selecting representation. When you spend time with someone, you get a feel for their:

  • Personality, professionalism, and demeanor
  • Their level of experience, as an attorney and with criminal cases
  • Responsiveness and timing in regards to your visit
  • Sincerity (are they just eager to your money?)
  • Level of personal interaction (will other attorneys or staff handle your case?)

How do fees work for criminal defense attorneys?

Criminal Defense attorneys typically work in flat-fee arrangements and require an upfront payment (retainer) to begin working on the case. Most attorneys will take credit cards and offer payment plans. In comparing prices it is important to keep in mind that you will often “get what you pay for”. Ask questions regarding whether the representation will cover pretrial motions and post conviction work, whether or not the representation will include Superior Court representation and whether or not the attorney’s fee will cover court costs and fines.

What things should I think about when meeting with a prospective attorney?

Is the attorney engaged in your situation and actively listening to what you’re going through? Are they asking appropriate questions that help flesh out what’s really going on in your case? During the meeting you should consider your comfort level with the attorney. You should ask:

  • Am I getting along with this attorney?
  • Would I feel comfortable with this person representing me?
  • If this person walked into court, how would the jury respond to them?
  • Do they speak well?
  • Are they well groomed?
  • Do they seem to a have a knowledge and understanding of the law?
  • Can they easily explain the law as it applies to my case?
  • Can I trust this person?
  • Are they experienced, and will they be my attorney or will it be someone else in the firm?
  • Have they practiced in the court that is handling my case? Have they defended similar cases?
  • Do they make promises to you that seem unusual? For example, “I know the prosecutor” or “I can guarantee this thing will get dismissed” is not only unhelpful in the local climate, but it may also be an ethical violation.

How honest should I be with my attorney?

Even in the early phases of a consultation with a prospective client, the attorney is bound by the attorney client privilege. This means anything that you discuss with that attorney is protected and privileged. If they share the details of your case, even with a family member, they may lose their license to practice law. The worst thing that can happen is that your attorney will be surprised by something in court that you didn’t warn them about. Knowing everything, even the “bad stuff”, could help your attorney leverage the type of negotiation you’ve been hoping for. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage in obtaining a good plea bargain by holding something back. To learn how our approach to criminal defense can benefit you, contact the Scharff Law Firm to schedule your free consultation.