Finding yourself in legal trouble is both frightening and highly stressful. Adding to the search for the right criminal lawyer, this can push the calmest person to the brink. While there is no single formula to determine what you should look for in a lawyer, there are several factors that you should consider when making your decision.
In this article you will learn what to consider when looking for a good Criminal Lawyer in Western Australia.
Why Should I Get a Lawyer?
There are plenty of things you can do yourself without affecting the prospects of the matter. However, representing yourself in a criminal trial is not one of those things. There are several reasons you should work with a criminal lawyer after being charged with a crime. These include,
- Reduce your stress and fear – Many people prefer being actively involved in stressful matters. However, taking on the responsibility of your own defence will add to your stress significantly.
- Increase your chances for a good outcome- Unless you have a strong knowledge of the law and are well acquainted with Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act, the Crimes Act, the Evidence Act, the Sentencing Act and several others pertaining to specific crimes, you may be limiting your opportunity to produce a meaningful defence.
- Minimise your risks – There are consequences to being a self-represented litigant. If you represent yourself at a trial, there is limited opportunity to appeal a case unless the Court of Appeals agrees that you have been provided limited opportunities in presenting your case. Aside from losing your case and facing jail time,
- Having your DNA placed on a state or national police database
- Difficulty finding work because of a criminal record
- Losing your present job when your employer learns of your record
- Being denied driving privileges for work because you did not file the correct paperwork
- Backup during a police interview – Many people would find themselves at a loss when interviewed by police officers. This is when you need guidance from an experienced criminal lawyer.
- Correctly submit your bail application – It is vital to get your bail application right the first time. If you are denied bail (even if the reason is an incorrect bail application), you will remain in custody. Your bail application cannot be reconsidered unless there are changes to your circumstances.
- Find weaknesses in the case against you – A skilled and experienced criminal lawyer can spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Additionally, your lawyer will know how to capitalise on the deficiencies and cast doubt on your guilt.
- Follow courtroom protocol – Your criminal lawyer knows the proper way to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and object to proceedings.
- Preserve your reputation – Criminal lawyers know when the prosecution takes statements too far and begins defaming their clients. Protecting your character is a vital part of your defence. Not everyone who defends themselves knows how to do this.
- Help you avoid jail time – This is the ultimate goal for defence lawyers. Clearing your name and keeping you out of prison are always at the top of a criminal lawyer’s list.
Where Can I Find a Lawyer?
Finding a lawyer to represent you in a criminal case can feel overwhelming, especially while you are struggling with the charges you are facing. There are a few different ways to locate a criminal defence lawyer.
- Private law firms- It is a common misconception that legal services are entirely unaffordable. A great many private law firms offer pricing packages and payment plans. Please engage in an initial consultation to talk about fee arrangements that can accommodate all parties.
- Reduced cost legal assistance- There are many legal services, organisations, and community legal centres that provide low cost or free legal help. Each organisation has its specific criteria for eligibility. Some programmes have minimal requirements and can serve a broad body of clients. Examples of these would be Legal Aid or one of the many community legal centres across Western Australia. Others help specific groups such as indigenous people or women.
- A pro bono scheme- Pro Bono lawyers offer services to those who meet eligibility requirements. The requirements include completing a means test, having exhausted all other efforts for legal assistance, and the matter has legal merit. This option is highly dependent on your circumstances and is generally a last resort.
What Should I Expect When I Meet with My Lawyer for the First Time?
Before you meet with your criminal lawyer for the first time, it is a good idea to prepare. You can start with writing a summary of the events surrounding the incident that led the police to charge you. Include contact information and any documentation that relates to your case.
It should go without saying that you should be honest with your lawyer. If the facts of a case are presented impartially, you will hurt your case and impede your lawyer’s ability to help you if you gloss over events, omit essential facts or try to cover up any evidence.
When you meet with your lawyer, it is good to have a list of questions and concerns with you. Some typical questions include,
- Information about costs and payments
- How long will it take to resolve this matter
- What are my chances of success
- Can the lawyer begin working on your case immediately
- Has the lawyer tried any cases similar to yours
- Is there anything you can do to make the process easier
Other Points You Should Address
You should be sure to tell your lawyer if you have reason to believe your safety is at risk because of the charges against you. Be sure to document any threats and the details surrounding them. Your lawyer will need this information if a protective order needs to be placed on your behalf.
Upon deciding to retain the lawyer’s services, be sure to read the statements regarding costs carefully. Find out how and when you will be billed. You also should receive an explanation of how fees are billed along with an estimate of the total costs.
Following Your Meeting
After your meeting, follow your lawyer’s advice and carry out directives such as gathering specific information as quickly as you can. A checklist can be helpful to keep you focused during this tumultuous time.
Please stay in contact with your criminal defence lawyer and make them aware of any changes with your case. Also, put your trust in your lawyer. Fighting their instincts and expertise in the situation may not improve your situation. You would not try to tell a surgeon how they should remove your appendix.
Essential Traits That You Should Look for in Your Criminal Defence Lawyer
When you think about how much of your future rests in the hands of your criminal lawyers, choosing the right one is critical. You should consider several fairly apparent details, such as certification to practise law in Western Australia, experience, and professional track record. You should pay attention to other qualities as you meet with potential criminal lawyers.
- Communication skills – Generally, criminal lawyers spend significant amounts of time speaking, so you want your representative to have excellent communication skills. Your lawyer also needs to have good listening skills. Your lawyer should pay attention and respond when you have questions or comments. If you feel your criminal defence lawyer does not hear you, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Empathy – While your lawyer may have dealt with cases similar to yours hundreds of times, he or she needs to remember that this may be your first time being charged with a crime. Expressing an understanding of the toll the charges are taking on you can strengthen the trust you have in your lawyer. If your lawyer seems to have little regard for your reputation, well-being, or physical safety, it is unlikely that your future is in good hands.
- Preparation, Determination, and Representation – A top-notch criminal defence lawyer will demonstrate all of these qualities as you work through your case. You should never feel as if your lawyer is ‘phoning it in’ while working on your case. When your lawyer is speaking on your behalf, you want them to be concise, factual, and persuasive. Likewise, you want your lawyer to exhibit tenacity and a strong desire to win your case and use accurate details to counter allegations made against you.
- Exhibit strong knowledge of the law – You want a lawyer who knows what evidence can and cannot be led by the prosecution, as well as nuances that can convince others of your innocence. Additionally, your criminal defence lawyer must develop a clear plan on your behalf that utilises components of the law to your advantage.
While no one wants to be charged with a crime and sent to trial, having a solid legal defence will make a world of difference in your outcome. If you need a criminal lawyer, contact WN Legal. You can depend on their experience, knowledge, and impressive work ethic to get you the best possible outcome.