It’s a daily question: “I’m looking for the best New Jersey criminal lawyer. Are you the best?” They ask because either they or their loved one has been arrested, and they want the absolute best New Jersey criminal lawyer to represent them.
Think of Marriage
When I am asked who the best New Jersey criminal lawyer is, I ask a question of my own: “Who is the best person for you to marry?” Then I push even further: “When you want to marry somebody, what are you looking for in that person?” People usually respond by saying, “I want a person who is respectful, honest, loyal, courteous …” Then I ask: “Do you want to marry someone who is arrogant? Condescending? Rude?” The answer is always ‘no.’
This takes us back to our original question: Who’s the best New Jersey criminal lawyer for you? The answer depends on what you want in a lawyer. Do you want someone who is honest? Hard working? Respectful? Returns your phone calls? Passionate about your case? Or do you want someone who never has time for you? Is condescending or arrogant?
Here are a few tips for things to look for when seeking the best New Jersey criminal lawyer for you.
#1: How will the best New Jersey criminal lawyer make you feel?
Most attorneys offer free consultations. During this consultation, go with your initial gut reaction. How does the attorney make you feel? If you have to wait, do they sincerely apologize for the wait? Do they shake your hand and look you in the eye? Are they patient with you?
and think about this...
Do they give you time to explain your side of the story? Does the attorney listen or constantly interrupt you? That’s a red flag. This is how it will be for the duration of your case, and criminal cases can go on for months and sometimes even years! The best New Jersey criminal lawyer will listen and speak to you with patience and understanding, not make you feel that you are wasting his/her time.
#2: How does the lawyer respond to your questions?
The second thing to look for when finding the best New Jersey criminal lawyer is how the attorney responds to your questions.
The law can be complicated and is filled with “lawyer-speak” – sophisticated words that only lawyers use and understand. Throughout your case, there will be confusing terms, procedures, and situations. You have to participate in your own defense, so you need to understand what is happening and why. The only way you can make an intelligent decision regarding your defense is if your attorney clearly explains things to you.
No question is stupid
There’s a Chinese proverb I learned as a kid: “If you ask a stupid question, you look like a fool for a few minutes. If you don’t ask the stupid question, you’ll be a fool for life.” The way I work – and the way you should expect the best New Jersey criminal lawyer to work – is with the mindset that there are no stupid questions, and you can ask me the same thing as often as you need to.
If your attorney doesn’t make time to respond to your questions, I have to take you back to my first question: Do you want a husband or wife who treats you like that? Your need to fully understand every aspect of your defense. This is something the best New Jersey criminal lawyer will make a priority.
#3: Does the lawyer make you feel rushed?
This is critical. In your criminal defense, there are no gametime decisions. What do I mean by that? Your criminal case is not a basketball game with three seconds left on the clock and your shot wins or loses the game.
Judges are fair; they give us time to make decisions. Prosecutors are also fair. They offer a plea bargain and give us time to decide. It could be two weeks or 30 days, but you should never have to make a critical life decision under pressure.
If your attorney demands your answer right away, that is another red flag because he/she has not been communicating with you during the time leading up to that decision. The best New Jersey criminal lawyer will give you time to make a decision. That lawyer will explain what happens based on the choices you have. Be wary if you feel rushed during the initial consultation.
#4: Will the lawyer be passionate about your case?
Passion is important. Does the attorney you are talking with have passion for what he/she does? The people who are best at their craft wake up just loving what they do. If you feel like the attorney you are speaking with doesn’t seem to care, you may want to re-think your decision.
In finding the best New Jersey criminal lawyer for you, you need someone who is passionate. When they go to court, they’re fighting for you; when they’re speaking to the prosecutor, they’re arguing for you. That passion has to spill over in every area of your case.
#5: How does the best New jersey criminal lawyer rank with former clients?
When you’re looking for the best New Jersey criminal lawyer, here’s an important tip: Do your research. What have prior clients said in online reviews? Hint: See if different people say different things in a positive way about the same person. This way you will know if the review is genuine.
Avoid reviews that are superficial: “He did a great job.” “Highly recommend.” These, in my opinion, are suspicious. Look for detailed reviews where the person is explaining a little about their case. This gives credibility to their review. You may want to call this attorney and arrange a consultation because you may have just found the best New Jersey criminal lawyer for you.
#6: What is the lawyer’s communication policy?
During your initial consultation, ask how often you can contact the lawyer and how he/she responds, whether by email or phone call. Remember, every step of the way there will be developments in your case — a new schedule, a new court date, some legal procedural thing that has to be filed, etc. If your attorney is not keeping you updated, you will keep calling your attorney’s office.
We have an open-door policy. Clients will call to ask what is going to happen, when the court date is, what time they should be there. They can call multiple times a day. They can come to our office. They can email. We are here to help, so we do not get tired of the calls, and we do not charge for every phone call, email, or office visit.
#7: Will this lawyer be the one working on your case?
Every tip you’ve been given so far is important, but this one needs to be underlined and bolded with an exclamation point! Ask the attorney you are thinking to hire if he/she will be the one who goes with you to court.
Why is this important? At some firms you will meet the head attorney, the one whose name is on the website, and feel comfortable entering a long-term relationship with him/her. But the reality is, this attorney may not be the one assigned to your case. When you sign on with the best New Jersey criminal lawyer, that attorney will be with you every step of the way.
#8: What is the lawyer’s fee structure?
Now we’re ready to wrap things up. You think you have identified the best New Jersey criminal lawyer there is. You have a good gut feeling. Here’s the final question before you sign the contract or retainer agreement: What is the fee structure? How will you be charged?
In New Jersey, we have two simple ways of engaging a client. The first is hourly. Attorneys can charge $300+ an hour. So every time you call, email, go to court, every time the attorney researches your case or speaks to the prosecutor, you will be billed by the hour. You can rack up huge legal fees very quickly without even knowing it.
The second type of structure is a flat fee. This means that for your entire case, you only pay one price. That’s how the best New Jersey criminal lawyer will work! Whether your case takes one month or one year, whether we spend 10 hours or 100 hours, you only pay one fee.
To sum up...
We’ve gone through some important things to look for when you are looking for the best New Jersey criminal lawyer. Think on these things, and if you have any questions, give us a call. I wish you the very best! God bless!