If you’ve been arrested in Louisiana, you may be wondering what to do next. This article will help you find a criminal defense attorney to represent you.
Choosing a Louisiana criminal defense attorney can be a difficult task, but it’s important that you find the best attorney for your case. This is especially true when facing serious charges in Louisiana.
The prosecutor on your case will try to give you the most time possible because their job is to present your case to the judge and ask for the maximum amount of time allowed by law.
Facing criminal charges in Louisiana can be a scary ordeal and you need a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney on your side to help you get past it.
Louisiana Criminal defense Attorneys Can Help
The Louisiana criminal law system can be difficult to navigate on your own. There are special rules that you must adhere to and a diverse body of law that governs criminal law.
You’ve probably watched crime series where the judge will say, “If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to you,” or something similar. This is because you need an attorney present during criminal law hearings due to the nature of the process.
You don’t have to be wealthy to have an attorney present, even those with limited financial means have a right to an attorney.
Each parish in Louisiana has an Indigent Defenders Board or Public Defenders that represent those accused of crimes in Louisiana. However, you have to qualify by submitting your income information. You may be denied a public defender if you make too much money or have a multitude of assets.
If you don’t qualify for a Louisiana public defender, you will be expected to hire your own criminal defense attorney. Further, you may want to hire your own attorney anyway to give you the opportunity to choose your own Louisiana criminal defense attorney.
How to Pick a Criminal Defense Attorney
You need to start searching for the best criminal defense attorney in Louisiana that you can find. Every parish has criminal defense attorneys that take cases every week. You can find them in court each and every time there are criminal matters in front of the judge.
The best way to find a great criminal defense attorney is by asking around town. Ask acquaintances and if they don’t know any, go to the court and ask court personnel, “Who is the best criminal defense attorney.”
There’s a good chance you will hear the same 3-5 names each time you ask. Take those top names and schedule a consultation to see if they can help you with their case.
What Questions Do I Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney?
In order for your attorney to help you, they will have to know what you’re accused of and the facts of your case. You must be honest with them about what happened. Here’s a list of questions to ask your potential Louisiana criminal defense attorney:
- How many cases like mine have taken?
- How many have you won?
- Do you practice before this particular judge often?
- Are you able to work out deals with this particular prosecutor?
- How many other clients like me do you represent?
- What is the cost of your representation?
It’s good if the attorney has practiced in front of your judge before as he or she will know exactly what the judge is looking for. They can also gauge your chances in court and if you should take a plea deal from the prosecutor assigned to your case.
You also want to know that they have represented similar cases as yours and won. You don’t want to go in court with an inexperienced attorney if you’re facing series charges.
These questions will at least get you started and will give you a better idea as to whether this particular criminal defense attorney is a good fit for your situation.
How Much Do Lawyers Cost for Criminal Defense?
The amount you will be required to pay completely depends on the type of case you have against you. Price is a factor to consider when searching for representation, but you also want to get the best you can get. You’ve probably Googled, “What is the average cost of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Louisiana,” so you’re off to a good start.
It also depends on the attorney you choose and other factors such as:
- Seriousness of charges
- Whether you have prior charges
- Experience of your criminal defense attorney
- The prosecutor assigned to your case
If you’re trying to figure out how much for a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana, you can get quotes, but the price will ultimately depend on the specific facts of your case.
Here’s a quick checklist to help you choose the best criminal law attorney for your case:
Areas of Practice
You will want to set an appointment for a consultation to speak about your case. It’s a good idea to meet with 3 – 4 attorneys to ensure you choose the right one. You will have to work with this attorney for a while, even up to a few years in some cases.
You need to choose a Louisiana criminal defense attorney that you can easily communicate with and can get in touch with at a moment’s notice. Most attorneys practice multiple areas of law, but criminal law is a little different. You don’t want to be your attorney’s first criminal defense client, nor do you want an attorney that specializes in another area of law, but takes your case because you pay them.
The criminal defense attorney you choose should have a law practice that mainly deals with criminal law matters or at least around 75% criminal law. It can take years for an attorney to learn the ins and outs of the justice system in Louisiana and you want to make sure the attorney you choose has experience helping clients such as yourself.
Experience can be a huge factor when choosing a criminal defense attorney. An attorney who has handled more cases similar to yours has seen more and knows how to assist you at each step of your case. They will have encountered multiple scenarios similar to yours and will know how to handle any issues that arise. They’ve also had trials in front of the same judges against the same prosecutors and know what to expect.
Each judge is different and an experienced criminal defense attorney who’s practiced in front of them will know what that particular judge likes to see and how they are likely to rule on the case at hand.
However, experience isn’t everything as a new Louisiana criminal defense attorney can still provide top-shelf representation. In fact, a new attorney with few clients may fight even harder for you because they have a name to build. Speak with your candidates about their experience and if they don’t have much experience handling cases similar to yours, ask them how they will overcome that obstacle.
The criminal defense attorney you choose doesn’t necessarily have to live in the area where your criminal proceedings will be held, but it doesn’t hurt if he or she is close by. Each parish in Louisiana has different local rules. The laws are the same, but each court house is run differently.
You want an criminal defense attorney that knows the particular local rules or traditions of the courthouse where you will be standing in front of the judge or jury. Also, you want to be able to speak with your criminal defense attorney in person when you have an issue. Most attorneys practice law in multiple parishes, so make sure your attorney has handled cases in the parish where you will be going to court. It also helps that your attorney has worked with the local prosecutors and has a good working relationship with them.
Criminal defense attorneys in Louisiana can be expensive, but worth every penny. Their job is to get you the best deal possible or to prove your innocence during trial. You could end up making your case worse by representing yourself, but you need to shop attorneys and see what you can afford. Some criminal defense attorneys will take your case for a small amount and others ask for proof that you can afford them before signing up.
You will want to call a few attorneys and ask what they normally charge for your type of case. Criminal law matters differ from personal injury cases and you will likely have to pay a retainer up front to your attorney.
Most attorneys have been reviewed by previous clients in some form or another. There are numerous websites that allow users to write reviews regarding their representation by any particular attorney. While lawyer reviews can be helpful, take them with a grain of salt.
Many cases are decided against parties no matter how hard their attorney fought for them. Unhappy clients are always open to writing scathing reviews and you will likely see some of these “bad” reviews. Keep in mind there may not have been anything the lawyer could have done to get a better outcome for that client. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the other party tries to review the attorney. This is unfair as reviews should only be for clients that hired the attorney and not the other party.
One of the easiest ways to find the best criminal defense attorney in Louisiana is to ask friends and family who they suggest. You will find that many of your acquaintances have had to hire an attorney and they can give you first-hand knowledge of how well that attorney performed.
You will probably hear the same 4-5 names around town over and over as the top Louisiana criminal defense attorneys in your area. Your next step would be to contact each one and schedule a consultation.
Every attorney has a case load, but some of the more popular attorneys have nearly impossible schedules. This means it may take them a while before they are able to handle your case. This could be problematic as you don’t get to choose your court date.
You will want to bring all of your paperwork to your consultation so the attorney can tell you upfront if they will be prepared in time. You don’t want to play around with serious criminal charges.
You don’t have to be best friends with your attorney, but you must be able to communicate and discuss your situation in order for you to be a good match. Criminal proceedings in Louisiana can take months and even years in some cases and you will need to establish a good relationship with your attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney if I’m Innocent?
Yes. You need an attorney present with you during every aspect of your criminal proceedings. Innocent people go to jail all the time. This is why you need an attorney present with you every single time you go to court. Don’t think for one second that you aren’t in danger even though you are innocent.
A prosecutor’s job is to prosecute you based on the information they have been provided. A few good arguments by the prosecutor and you could land yourself in jail – even if you didn’t do the crime. Always have an attorney by your side to protect your rights.
Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Get Me a Better Deal?
Absolutely. They know how the system works and how to get the most out of a deal for you. The District Attorney’s office will submit an offer and the defense will counter or try to get you a lenient sentence.
They can sometimes keep you out of jail and into one of the many programs that the DA will accept for your crime. They can also object to certain evidence and sometimes have evidence thrown out so that it cannot be used against you. This can make your deal much better.
Who is the Best Criminal Defense Attorney?
This question is impossible to answer because it depends on your location and the type of case. As we stated earlier, you will probably hear the same 3-5 names over and over when asking friends and acquaintances. These are usually your top attorneys to choose from in your area.
You don’t have to sign a contract with the first attorney you meet with. It’s good to meet with a few to make sure you make the right choice when choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your case.
Should I Get an Attorney for a DUI?
You absolutely should consider hiring a lawyer if you’ve been charged with a DUI. A criminal defense attorney that has experience handling DUI cases has a higher chance of saving your driver’s license or to even get the charges reduced. In some cases, a good Louisiana DUI attorney can get the charges dismissed.
You don’t want to blindly take a plea deal without consulting a DUI attorney and letting them review the facts of the case. There’s a good chance the District Attorney does not have enough evidence to convict and your attorney will know exactly how to work your case.
It’s never advised to go to criminal court in Louisiana without an attorney and that means DUI charges as well.
While Louisiana DUI attorneys may be expensive, they can possibly save you money in the long run. You face losing your driver’s license and missing out on work. Many people wait too long to hire a DUI attorney and it can cause problems with scheduling. You best bet is to speak with an attorney the moment you know you have court.
Many people think their first DUI or DWI offense isn’t serious. You can still lose many privileges that you take for granted if you’re convicted. You need to consult with an attorney even if this is your first DUI or DWI.
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Disclaimer: This website does not intend to give legal advice for your case. Please contact an attorney with any questions you may have as this blog is not intended to be used as legal advice.