What to Ask When Choosing a White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a white-collar crime, or even knowing you are under investigation, is life- changing. The conviction rate is troublingly high. Not only is your freedom at stake, but asset forfeiture laws can strip you of much that you own. To protect your freedom and financial future, you must find a highly qualified white-collar criminal defense attorney who will fight for you and who can anticipate the next move. There are many criminal defense attorneys in Houston. How do you choose a qualified attorney to fight for you?
You need to have as many facts as possible to choose the right lawyer for your case. Here are a few questions to ask – whether you are looking for a federal criminal defense attorney or one who works in state courts.
1. Do you offer a free consultation? If so, how does that work?
Before you hire your criminal defense attorney, you want to ask questions about your case, about how the attorney works, and see if you have a rapport and can work together. You want to be able to ask questions at a free consultation. Also ask about the fee structure, whether flat of hourly or some combination.
2. What is your experience in defending white-collar crimes? Have you ever been a prosecutor?
Most white-collar cases are document-intensive, and the law is complicated and ever-evolving. You do not want your case to be the first one of its kind your attorney has worked on. You need an attorney with years of experience successfully defending those charged with white-collar crimes. White-collar crimes are charged in both state and federal court. Ideally, your attorney will have experience as either a state or federal prosecutor so he or she knows how the other side works and what tactics to expect. This increases your chances of success since the attorney will also be familiar with the law, the prosecutors, the agents, and the judges handling the cases and what their expectations are of the attorneys and defendants who appear in their courtrooms. The attorney can anticipate and confront most all problems before they arise.
3. What are your fees and how do you charge?
Some state and federal criminal defense attorneys charge by the hour. Others charge a flat rate depending on the nature of the charges against you and the anticipated amount of work that will be involved. If there is an hourly rate, what is the amount of the retainer? How often will you receive a bill? Is it possible to make payment arrangements? Keep in mind this is your life at stake. Whether you spend time in prison or remain free can depend on the success of your criminal defense representation. This is not a time to be bargain hunting.
4. Do you ever participate in plea bargaining?
You want your white-collar lawyer to bring experience in both taking cases to trial and working with the other side for an outcome that is in your best interest, while at the same time preparing for trial – if it comes to that. That is why it is important to have clear and accessible communication with your attorney and confidence they are working aggressively for your best possible outcome.
5. What do you do in preparing my defense?
You need your criminal defense attorney, whether the charges are in state or federal court, or whether you are under investigation and no charges have yet been filed to:
- Thoroughly investigate your case and find all inculpatory and exculpatory evidence.
- As and when appropriate, interview witnesses for your defense and witnesses the prosecution may use against you.
- Explain to you your potential defense options, what the risks of going to trial are, what your chances of success are at trial, and what all your other options may be.
- Negotiate with prosecutors when that is in your best interest.
- Keep you informed about the status of your case and all changes as soon as they happen.
6. How do you communicate with me, who in your office is my contact person when I have a question, and how often do you give me a status report?
You need to know whenever anything consequential happens in your case. If the status does not change, will you still get periodic reports? Also, will the lawyer communicate with you directly or will there be a paralegal or assistant who will primarily be the one with whom you are communicating? If so, you need to meet that person and be sure you are comfortable with him or her being your contact person.
Michael J. Wynne is ready to answer all your questions.
Michael J. Wynne is a Harvard Law educated white-collar criminal defense lawyer. He is responsive and relentless. He has extensive experience as a federal prosecutor in practically every kind of case the U.S. Attorney’s Office can bring, so knows what to expect from the other side and has a clear understanding of what evidence they would need to make a case against you – and to call them out when they do not have that evidence.. He is always ready to answer your legal questions and to support you and your family.
To discuss your case or any of the questions above, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.