Hundreds of criminal defense lawyers practice in and around Columbus, Ohio. Finding the one who can best represent you does not need to be a challenge, but it does require doing some research. And you definitely do need a good attorney. Ohio courts impose harsh penalties for criminal convictions.
Searching online is an excellent way to start identifying the lawyer you will hire to handle your case. Simply typing “Columbus criminal defense” into Google, Bing or Yahoo will suffice.
Don’t settle for the first result, though. You may want to limit your choice of law firms to ones within a short drive of your house or apartment. You may also find names you recognize from ads or people you know who worked with an attorney before.
Whatever general criteria you apply, make a list of three or four firms to check out. You don’t (and shouldn’t) want to give everyone a shot, but you will want to keep the selection and hiring process manageable.
Once you make your list of the criminal defense lawyers and law firms you believe could do a good job, look at each more closely. In particular, consider the four factors of experience, reviews, costs, and responsiveness. Here’s how to assess each of those and they matter.
No two criminal cases are identical, but defenses against specific charges do follow patterns. A key set of strategies and tactics work well for most drunk or drugged driving cases. Those differ markedly, however, from the strategies and tactics that work best for assault or weapons cases.
Visit the website of each lawyer and look for information about the types of cases they take. Look, too, for lists or summaries of case results. A strong track record of winning acquittals or securing favorable plea deals for people who faced the same charges as you is a definite plus.
Has the lawyer received major awards? What do previous clients say?
A lot of this information will be on the law firm’s website. You can also go to attorney ranking websites like Avvo and Best Lawyers to learn how other legal experts view an attorney you might hire.
This does not mean how much you will pay. Not entirely, anyway.
You must know what your criminal defense lawyer will charge. Will you rack up expenses by the hour, or does the attorney ask for a flat fee? What, if anything, will you pay for beyond the attorney’s time? That is, will you get hit with fees for making copies and submitting paperwork to the court? Can you set up a payment plan? Does the firm accept credit cards?
Do not hire a criminal defense lawyer who refuses to answer each of the preceding questions. Pressing these issues will allow you to gauge the lawyer’s openness, honesty, and helpfulness while also protecting you from receiving an unpleasant surprise at the conclusion of your case.
This last consideration is really the most important. More than expertise, reputation, or affordability, a criminal defense lawyer’s ability to meet the needs of his clients matters.
Only hire an attorney who picks up the phone and responds to emails or texts. Run away from an attorney who refuses to give straight answers. Understand that the laws of Ohio allow a client to fire his or her lawyer at any time. Refuse to stick with an attorney who gives you bad advice or who treats your cases as anything less than a priority.
Colin Maher of the Maher Law Firm has helped people charged with driving under the influence, assault, weapons possession, disorderly conduct, and theft and fraud. He takes cases in Columbus and surrounding Franklin County, and he charges most clients a flat fee. You can request a free consultation by calling (614) 205-2898 or completing this online contact form.