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Retaining a Criminal Defense Attorney

Finding an attorney to represent you in a criminal case is a serious decision, since your freedom is at stake. Recommendations from friends and family are usually the best place to begin in your search for an attorney. You can also call any attorney's office and ask for a consultation, which is generally free. A good criminal defense attorney will get back to you that same day, if she is available. If at all possible, do not attempt to defend yourself against criminal charges.

Additionally, every state has an organization of attorneys called a "bar." Each state bar has a Web site with information about lawyers practicing criminal law.

TIP: In some jurisdictions, attorneys may be "board certified" in a specialized area of law by their state bar association. A certification presumes an expertise above and beyond a lawyer who is not certified. In those states offering certification, a list of certified criminal lawyers is available from the state bar, and may also be noted in attorney listings in the Yellow Pages.

When dealing with a busy criminal attorney, you should expect on occasion to relay messages through her secretary or paralegal. However, you want an attorney who personally returns your phone calls within 24 hours if she is in town or not in trial. A prompt response indicates a confident, prepared, organized attorney who is attentive to her clients.