Criminal offenses should be taken seriously, whether they will be the start of your criminal record or an addition to a laundry list of charges. Regardless of the number of offenses that you have in your past, you should take immediate action when you are charged with a crime. Federal offenses are actions that violate U.S. federal laws, and those who face these types of charges may be investigated by government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Offenses prosecuted at the federal level can include sex crimes, drug trafficking, weapons charges, white collar crimes, and more.
Compared to state crimes, federal offenses often carry much heavier penalties, making it even more critical to work with an attorney who is experienced in federal criminal defense.
The federal and state government each have their own court systems. Federal court judges are nominated by the president, approved by the Senate, and serve for life. Being charged with a federal crime can be intimidating, and more than 90% of individuals prosecuted in the federal court are convicted of their charges. In these cases, hiring a Chicago federal criminal defense attorney is crucial.
They Do Not Focus on Criminal Defense
Based on a law firm’s website, it becomes fairly obvious which practice areas they highlight and what their strong suit is. You should be searching for an attorney who has a reputation of success in the criminal defense field. Attorneys with very little experience defending against criminal charges will not have the same number of strategies at their disposal. Each attorney will likely have their own bio page which highlights their accomplishments and successes in the field. Talking time to read these website pages can help you get a sense of their experience in criminal defense.
Not Shopping Around
Most attorneys offer free consultations for a reason, and you should take advantage of these opportunities. Engaging in a free consultation by no means guarantees that you will be hiring the attorney, but it will give you the opportunity to personally speak with the lawyer and determine their personality and work ethic. You may want to speak to multiple criminal defense lawyers and ask about their previous work with cases similar to yours. If they have extensive experience defending people in a similar position as yours, and you believe they have the right personality to address your needs, they may be the right lawyer for you.
Taking a Chance on Someone New
While it may seem admirable to work with a young, fresh attorney, it is always best to place your trust in a criminal defense lawyer with a long resume to back up their claims. A criminal defense case can be one of the most serious situations that you may ever face, and your fate rests on the abilities of your attorney. Older, more reputable lawyers may not have the young, modern outlook of a new attorney, but their litigation experience has a better chance of leaving you with a smaller sentence or a not-guilty verdict.
Not Understanding Federal vs. State Cases
Because state and federal court systems differ, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who is well-versed in federal cases. Federal courts have different policies and procedures, such as retaining the same judge throughout the entire trial. The amount of evidence available in federal cases will often far outweigh what is used in state proceedings. This can allow your attorney to access additional information to strengthen your case. Without a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the federal courts, you will likely not have as strong of a case, and you may not be able to utilize the resources available to their fullest extent.
Failure to Perform a Background Check
While you may not need to perform a complete background check, you should utilize your online resources to do some more research into your potential attorney. Their website will highlight their successes and achievements, but it will likely leave out any information about infractions or instances of misconduct that they may have in their past. You should take a look at client reviews and legal directories for a more honest and detailed view of a lawyer’s work and reputation.
Ignoring Your Instincts
The trusty “gut feeling” that you have probably turned to when making decisions in the past is just as relevant when it comes to hiring a criminal defense lawyer. When speaking with a potential attorney, you will be able to pick up on any possible scams, lies, or personality disconnects that you may notice. Remember, you are placing your future in the hands of someone else. You should be sure that you work well together and that you fully trust their judgment.
No Clarification on Fees
One of the biggest concerns that people face when they hire an attorney is the possibility that they will not be able to afford the attorney’s services after they have already started working together. It is important to be upfront about what you can and cannot afford. Having to find a new criminal defense attorney in the middle of your case because your current one is too expensive can leave you wasting time and money in building a new defense strategy.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative that you promptly begin searching for a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer to work with, keeping in mind the common mistakes discussed above. Whether you are facing charges related to drug trafficking, fraud, or other federal crimes, an experienced attorney can advise you on how you should proceed.