Facing criminal charges by police and having to face court can be an incredibly difficult and overwhelming experience.
For those who find themselves in this situation, finding the best criminal lawyer for their case makes all the difference.
Navigating the process of trying to find the most suitable criminal lawyer may seem complex, especially for those facing charges for the first time. However, it is incredibly important that due time and consideration is dedicated to this process.
Using the right representation gives an accused person the best chance of achieving the best possible outcome in their specific situation. This may involve avoiding conviction under section 10 or CRO non conviction, receiving the minimum possible sentence, successfully getting supreme court bail, or securing a ‘not guilty’ verdict in court for serious criminal charges.
Furthermore, it can considerably alleviate the stress and anxiety often associated with criminal proceedings, through having a helpful and supportive person by your side.
There’s a few crucial steps and considerations that can help you find the best criminal lawyers in Sydney or across the country, including:
Social Media & Internet Presence
In this day and age, the first step to begin one’s search will inevitably be the internet.
It is important to not settle for the first few paid search results. Undertake some research of your own. This may involve searching directories of solicitors and lists or rankings online using the Google search engine.
The first 3 to 4 search results on google for a search of “criminal lawyers Sydney” are always paid ads. The listing will actually say “Ad” usually on the top left. This means that these few law firms are paying big bucks to Google to be seen first, in the hope to get clicks in the hope that they convert to a phone call or online booking through their websites.
As you then browse further down Googles search results, you will come across Google Places, which lists 3-4 law firms with Google reviews and an option to click the call button. The first of these listings will be a paid ad. The paid add Google Places listing will indicate that it is an “Ad” usually on the top left.
Below the paid ads will be the organic listings for google places of criminal law firms.
Organic listings are listings that Google chooses to show of criminal law firms closest to you who do not pay Google. Google chooses to show them because they are credible and usually of high quality lawyers who specialise in criminal law. They are usually trustworthy and considered leaders in the industry.
The Google reviews are reviews posted by customers or clients of the law firm sharing their experience(s) with the law firm to help other users make the right decision when engaging a law firm.
While some criminal law firms in Sydney cheat by paying overseas agencies to post a high number of fake five-star google reviews on their Google Places listings, others acquire it with honesty and hard work over a period of time.
It is difficult to decipher if it is fake or real to the ordinary searcher. However, one strong indicator that a law firm has paid to acquire fake 5-star google reviews is if they have acquired an unusually large number of 5-star google reviews over a very short period of time the firm has been in existence for online. Especially if they are a new law firm or a lawyer with limited years of experience. There are a handful of firms that currently fit into this category.
You can find out how long a lawyer has been an admitted criminal lawyer for in NSW by searching their name on the NSW Law Society lawyer search page.
When scrolling further down from the Google Places listings, you will then come across the organic non-paid listings of credible and trustworthy criminal law firms. The first 3-4 listing of criminal law firms here are not paying Google to place them there. In fact, they have reached at the top and remained at the top of the organic listings section as a result of hard work, excellent reputation and acknowledgment of being amongst the best criminal lawyers- due to obtaining exceptional customer satisfaction and results over the years. One click at these listings will take you straight to the law firms website.
It’s important to consult a law firm’s website, which can often reveal a significant amount of information regarding their specialities and values. They may post articles, exhibiting an interest and expertise in the specific area of criminal law that may be relevant to your case.
Furthermore, results are often showcased by firms on their websites, which can allow you to analyse their track record for yourself. While law firms publish their results of cases, they should not disclose any personal details of clients, which would be a gross breach of confidentiality and client-lawyer legal privilege.
Furthermore, the online social media of a firm, such as Facebook page and LinkedIn page, can often reveal much about their level of service, values, and credibility. An active social media presence can display a sense of responsiveness and credibility. Reviews from the public are also often showcased on their social media profiles with past clients able to provide further insight into whether one should proceed with a service.
How much does a criminal lawyer cost? Getting the best quality legal representation for an affordable and proportionate cost will ultimately be the goal for many. Firms may offer a free first consultation, which allows potential clients an answer to many of their initial questions, and a window into what the service provided will be like.
Receiving a ‘fixed fee’ quote will be a comforting to many as it will enable an accurate picture of the costs associated, rather than questioning how much your case may cost. Finding a firm that is transparent and competitive with regard to pricing will ultimately provide one with certainty and peace of mind and put at ease some of the stress associated with legal proceedings.
It is important to consider some key features that one may be looking for within a lawyer, especially during the consultation period. Getting the right guidance at an early stage can have a massive impact on the outcome, so its integral to have in mind what you are looking for. Key qualities include communication, transparency, and expertise in your relevant area. Timeliness in responding and being able to effectively convey how they would address your matter, are two valuable indicators of such qualities. While criminal defence lawyers will likely deal a vast variety of cases daily, each area of criminal law requires its own specific knowledge. Therefore, one may opt for those with more specialised expertise rather than a ‘generalist’.
Some key indicators of quality include whether and how many authentic law awards the law firm has achieved. A list of genuine and honest accolades are strong indicators of trust and leaders in the industry.
Will I need a Barrister?
A question that may you find yourself considering is whether you will need a barrister for your case. Whilst the difference between a barrister and solicitor may confuse some, an essential factor to remember is that normally you will be dealing with a solicitor whereas they may choose, following discussions with yourself, to instruct a barrister. The primary responsibility of a barrister is to act on behalf of a client during a serious or complex criminal case in court. They are able to provide a high-quality level of advocacy, enhancing that of the solicitor who deals with the client. Your solicitor may raise with you that a barrister could be worthwhile to instruct in your matter, or you can raise it in discussions with your representative in order to consider whether it would be necessary.
The advantage in going with a criminal defence law firm that specialises only in criminal law is that they are able to provide just as high a level of advocacy and experience. Retaining an experienced and trusted criminal defence lawyer can save thousands and thousands of dollars by alleviating the need to even instruct a barrister where you would otherwise be paying double. Often, a criminal defence barrister may be required in very complex cases or when a case reaches a certain stage in the criminal proceedings, saving you legal costs. Most lawyers won’t explain this to their clients, but the reality is, an experienced criminal defence lawyer should be able to navigate their clients through the main early to mid-stages of the case, and only consider instructing a barrister at the later stage in complex serious cases to save their clients costs. Some solicitors or lawyers will want to instruct a barrister earlier or instruct a barrister in very simple straight forward cases because they themselves don’t have the level of expertise and experience, or time.
Getting an experienced and trusted criminal defence lawyer will save you significant time, money and stress in the long run of the case.
Made the wrong decision?
In the event that you do proceed with a lawyer and end up dissatisfied with their services, it is a relatively simple process to switch to a more suitable candidate. One may decide to do this through informing their current solicitor that they have hired a new one or you can simply request that your new lawyer communicate this to your old one informing them of the change and obtaining your file or brief of evidence.
While finding the best criminal defence lawyer for your case may seem like a daunting task, its valuable to dedicate due consideration to the process in order to alleviate stress and enable stronger chances of a better outcome in the long run.