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Facing Criminal Charges in Virginia? Call Us at

How to Choose Your Lawyer

Breaking it down

When considering hiring a Roanoke criminal defense lawyer or traffic defense lawyer in Virginia, there are several factors important to consider.

  • Does the attorney have experience with your type of case and in the court where your case will be heard?
  • Has the lawyer explained all of your options so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case?
  • Will the lawyer be available when you have questions, and be willing to go to trial if necessary?
  • Is the attorney someone who makes you feel comfortable and whom you can trust?

Being charged with a criminal or traffic offense in Virginia can be stressful and confusing, especially if you’ve never been to court before. It may be tempting to hire the cheapest lawyer, or the one with the most splashy ad on TV, but finding the right lawyer — the one you feel comfortable with, who talks to you honestly and will work hard on your behalf — is critical to getting you the best possible outcome.

Cost often is an important factor when hiring an attorney, but other factors are just as crucial.

Experience
Generally, a lawyer who has handled your type of case before and who has worked in the court where your case is being heard will have the best ideas about your options and how to handle your charge. For example, a lawyer who mostly handles consumer bankruptcies in federal court may not be the best person to fight a reckless driving or DUI charge in a Virginia circuit court, no matter how many years that attorney has been in practice.

A seasoned criminal or traffic defense lawyer who has worked in Virginia’s courts will understand:

  • The many subtleties of the state’s criminal and traffic laws
  • What defenses are usually successful in your type of case
  • What kinds of evidence, witnesses, or documents you’ll need to gather
  • How to negotiate with prosecutors to lessen your charge
  • What strategies are successful to convince a judge or jury to dismiss your case or reduce your penalties

Honesty
You want a lawyer who will give you an honest and thorough assessment of the possible outcomes in your case. If the evidence is stacked against you and there’s no way to avoid jail time, your lawyer should be up front about that. On the flip side, if there are defenses available that could work, you want a lawyer who will tell you that, too. You want a lawyer who will explore every option and give you all of the information you need to make the best decision about how to proceed.

Accessibility
Your lawyer is someone you’ll need to confide in and trust, so finding one whose communication style makes you feel comfortable and well-represented is important to getting the best outcome in your case. A good lawyer will explain the process to you in clear, understandable language, and will return your phone calls when you have a question or need information about your case.

Zealousness
The consequences of being convicted of a criminal or traffic offense in Virginia can be serious and affect the rest of your life. You could face jail time, large fines, loss of driving privileges, and a criminal record that may stop you from getting a job or a place to live. You need a lawyer who will stand with you and work tirelessly to get the best outcome your circumstances allow — whether that’s pleading guilty and negotiating a lesser penalty or going to trial to fight the charge.

Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Roanoke Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • What kind of experience do you have handling my type of case?
  • Do you have experience in the court where my case will be heard?
  • How is this sort of case usually handled?
  • What are the possible outcomes for my situation? How will this affect my future?
  • What will you do for me?
  • How will you communicate with me?
  • How often will I get updates on my case?
  • How much will my defense cost? What payment options do you offer?

Check the Lawyer’s Background
Did you know you can check out your lawyer before you ever step into his or her office? The Virginia State Bar will tell you if your lawyer has a disciplinary record — which can tell you if your lawyer behaves ethically and professionally, or if clients are complaining — and whether your lawyer has malpractice insurance. You can get this information two ways:

  • Call the Virginia State Bar Clerk’s Office at (804) 775-0539
  • Search online at http://www.vsb.org

Facing charges in Virginia?

If you’ve been charged with a criminal or traffic offense in Virginia, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call our toll-free number at or our local number at .