The criminal justice system is complex and requires a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Phoenix who can help you make vital decisions that will potentially impact your life, future, and freedom. The right attorney has vast legal experience, a lengthy track record of successfully defending cases just like yours, and works hard to ensure protection of your rights. They want to make sure that you receive the best criminal defense possible.
How do you find the best criminal defense attorney in Phoenix for your specific case? While you can start by doing some research online, you should also speak to others familiar with the attorneys’ level of expertise and success rate. Additionally, meeting a potential criminal attorney in person can help you form a personal impression.
What Is Criminal Law?
Criminal law deals specifically with the punishment of individuals who have been accused of committing a crime. These crimes can be on a local, state, or federal level.
Like every state, Arizona’s criminal code designates what constitutes a crime and the standard punishments attached to each type of crime. Crimes are classified as misdemeanors or felonies and Arizona has several distinct levels in both categories, depending on the severity of the crime. Punishments for individual crimes range from a simple fine for lesser offenses to prison time for more serious offenses. But a single crime can include more than one punishment.
Look for Experience in All Courts
When you are facing an accusation of a crime, there are three types of courts where you might end up. If you are accused of breaking a city law, you always begin in municipal court. If your alleged crime deals with a state law, or you are appealing the decision of the municipal court, you head to superior court.
Further, if your alleged crime involves breaking a federal law or occurred on federal lands, your case is heard in federal court. Sometimes the jurisdictions of the courts overlap. So, your case may be heard in more than one court. This makes it especially important that the lawyer you choose has experience in all three types of court systems. An example is when a person has been arrested for DUI, a misdemeanor, and during a later search police find either a dangerous drug or a narcotic drug, possession of either is a felony. This means the DUI will be heard in either a city or justice court, and the drug possession charge will be heard in superior court.
State and federal courts are similar, but have notable differences. For example, state courts deal with a broad scope of criminal cases that violate state laws. Meanwhile, federal courts handle fewer cases that specifically violate federal laws or the U.S. Constitution. Federal cases also tend to be more legally complex, making them more difficult to defend.
Many local lawyers only deal with city or state cases, but a good criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix, such as those at Lerner and Rowe Law Group, has sufficient experience handling cases in all types of courts.
The court system set up in Arizona also has three levels. These include municipal or city courts, which have jurisdiction over a limited variety of cases; Superior Court, which is a statewide trial court; and state appellate courts, which review trials and decisions appealed to them.
Choose Local Talent
The best local criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix for you has local connections and established relationships that provides a welcomed familiarity with the process when fighting your criminal charge. Although the same laws govern the entire state, procedures can often vary from one courthouse to another or even from one judge or prosecutor to another.
A lawyer who works closely with local courthouses, judges, and prosecutors better understands how to create a winning strategy to effectively change the outcome of your case.
For example, a good local criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix may be familiar with how the local law enforcement officers involved in your case perform before a jury or know which prosecutors are more likely to entertain plea bargains and which ones almost never consider them.
Count on Experience
When it comes to criminal defense, there is absolutely no substitute for the real life experience of defending the rights of clients accused of criminal acts. Finding a lawyer with years of experience putting what they learned in school to good practice in an actual courtroom is vital to your case. So, do not be afraid to ask questions.
It is perfectly appropriate for you to ask about an attorney’s past experience during an initial consultation. A good attorney should be able to provide specific details about their courtroom experience and how they have previously handled cases similar to yours.
An ideal Phoenix criminal defense attorney not only has extensive experience defending criminal cases like yours, but also has experience prosecuting these types of cases.
Defense lawyers with insight from when they were a prosecutor helps them better understand how the prosecuting attorney may handle your case. This knowledge is often invaluable in the development of a successful defense strategy.
Confidence in the Courtroom
While a plea bargain may be the best course of action in some cases, you do not want a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer who is afraid to go to court when necessary. Should your case go to court, you need an attorney capable of keeping up with the fast pace of a criminal trial, while providing the best possible defense.
This is where their courtroom experience really comes into play. Ensure the criminal attorney you choose fully comprehends courtroom procedures and is confident and comfortable handling all aspects of a court hearing.
However, you want confidence, not arrogance. Be leery of an attorney that promises you a specific outcome to your case from the outset. There is always an element of the unknown when it comes to criminal law, even the best criminal attorney cannot promise dismissal of your charges before they have even prepared for your case.
Count on a criminal attorney who can build a compelling case and tells you exactly how he will go about doing this, including explaining all your options and every possible outcome.
Compare Track Records
A criminal attorney who has defended thousands of clients may have enough experience to tackle your case, but one with a notable track record of successful outcomes for these clients is always the better choice.
Experience without success means very little when you are facing harsh consequences, such as a lengthy prison sentence, should you lose your case. Further, it is one thing to boast of vast experience with a supposedly stellar record and another thing to be able to back this up with verifiable success.
Again, do not be afraid to ask questions to determine whether the attorney is as good as they proclaim. Check their references to learn whether they have good recommendations from reputable sources. Turn to those you trust who can also provide an honest opinion on your list of attorney choices. Especially if they have had experience facing a situation similar to yours.
Willingness to Fight Hard for You
Some attorneys may work and fight harder than others. Your Phoenix criminal defense lawyer should not look at defending you as just a job. You need a tenacious, fully committed ally in your corner who is willing to aggressively fight for your defense.
Furthermore, your attorney of choice should always be looking out for your best interest and show dedication to protecting you and your rights. You are putting your trust in your attorney’s hands. So, you have to be able to wholeheartedly trust they will do what is right for you at every turn.
A long history of proven results often reflects an attorney’s willingness to fight hard for their clients. But, you can also learn a lot from watching an attorney in action. Except under certain circumstances, you have the right to attend most state court proceedings in Arizona, including criminal trials.
This provides the perfect opportunity to witness how an attorney operates during his other cases and how he interacts with the clients in those cases.
Must be Accessible and Available
When you are facing a charge for a criminal offense, time is of the essence. Time lost could mean the difference between winning or losing your case. You need a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix who is going to start work on your case immediately.
This begins with being available 24/7 to take your initial call and continues throughout your case by being accessible anytime. You should always receive a prompt response, including an initial meeting arranged as soon as possible. Attorneys who quickly answer phone calls and emails are likely to be equally accessible throughout the various phases of your defense.
The old adage of “you get what you pay for” is just as true in the legal world. Opting for the attorney with the lowest fee is not always in your best interest. Especially if the attorney does not have the legal experience needed to prepare a solid defense for your case. However, that does not mean you should hire the most expensive lawyer either. The standard fees of most good criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix are usually comparable.
Billing on an hourly rate is the most common practice, as is requiring a retainer. You will likely have to cover specified legal expenses, court costs, and miscellaneous fees. However, many established attorneys allow you to make affordable payment arrangements after the case has closed successfully.
Hire a Top Criminal Defense Attorney in Phoenix
When you hire a Phoenix criminal defense attorney from Lerner and Rowe Law Group, we will treat you fairly and in a non-judgmental way, while providing the best possible defense against your criminal allegations.
Our board-certified attorney specializes in criminal law and is well versed in Arizona’s criminal code. In addition, our legal team has amassed 75 years of combined experience defending clients accused of criminal offenses. We offer representation in all Arizona city, state and federal courts. Our team of skilled lawyers includes aggressive former prosecutors who make sure to protect your legal rights!
If you are facing an accusation of any crime in Arizona, schedule a free initial case evaluation and ask about our affordable payment options. We are available to take your call 24/7 at 602-667-7777. Or you can use our convenient online LiveChat. You can also stop by our office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you have already been found guilty of any criminal charge, we are also experienced at appealing prior convictions. We thoroughly review every case and will become your advocate both in and out of the courtroom. Contact us today!