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5 essential qualities of a white collar criminal defense attorney

Have you ever been lost in a maze? Being accused of a white collar crime can feel very much the same. Being confused and in a state of panic, are often normal reactions to the initial shock of learning you are being investigated or charged. 

Even if you've never been charged with a crime before, you might guess that one of the first things you should do is find an attorney. But how do you choose one among the hundreds of lawyers that surface in a Google search? Here are some key points to keep in mind when selecting a criminal defense attorney for your fraud case:

1. Experience is key: First and foremost, the lawyer or law firm you choose should focus on white collar crimes. These offenses are extremely complex, and you need someone with many years of experience in handling these types of criminal defense cases. This is one situation where your friend's neighbor's attorney who dabbles in white collar crime won't suffice. Some criminal defense lawyers have prior experience as prosecutors. While this experience is not required, you may want to at least consult with someone who has been on both sides. 

2. You need to stay informed. When faced with the reality of being charged with a crime, you may have resorted to Web searches to learn more about cases like yours. But as we all know, internet content is not always reliable, nor can it be easily condensed. These searches can help you ask questions. Make sure the attorney you choose is willing to adequately explain the possible charges against you, your legal options, and any and all implications for proceeding one way or another.

3. Know what to do. One of the most common pitfalls for criminal defendants is the tendency to "cooperate" with investigators, before having the benefit of legal advice. Most of us have a natural instinct to respond to law enforcement authorities when they ask questions. Committing an offense can also trigger a need to talk about it openly and extensively. But these authorities are gathering evidence to use against you, so how should you respond? While cooperation may ultimately be advisable or not, you would usually lose the ability to benefir from cooperation by providing it before your attorney has negotiated what you may receive in return. Investigating agents are generally not authorized to promise benefits, prosecutors have that authority. you want an attorney who will tell you what actions to take - and not to take - throughout the process.

4. You should come first. Your lawyer should be committed to reaching the best outcome for your situation and communicating that with you at every stage of the process. If you get the sense that you are not comfortable or confident in the person advising you, it may be time to look elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with talking to more than one attorney before deciding on the lawyer you hire.

5. Keep your mental health in mind. This is one of the most stressful life events imaginable. Your attorney may recommend that you seek some form of therapeutic counseling, which is a wise idea. While not always necessary, make sure feel your attorney is sensitive to your fears and concerns, rather than dismissive. Lawyers are ethically prohibited from promising guaranteed results. don't expect that and be wary if you hear such promises.

6 Comments

Thanks for this helpful information on the qualities of a good defense attorney. I agree that experience is key when it comes to attorneys. To me, the reason why I would hire an attorney would be because I don't know what I am doing. I would look for an attorney that has as much experience as possible to counter the fact that I don't know what I am doing. Thanks for the help!

Thanks for this helpful post on the essential qualities of a good criminal defense attorney. I really like what you said about the importance of experience. I would only want to hire an attorney that knows their way around the court process. I also like what you said about staying informed. I would love to have an attorney that is willing to inform me of what is going on. Thanks for the help!

My cousin loves the law and is looking into becoming an attorney one day. I think that the role of a criminal defense attorney would be difficult at times and I was wondering what qualities a person in this career would need to possess to find success. It is good to know that experience is key. Like anything in life, practice is essential. I will tell my cousin, thanks.

We appreciate the stress associated with our client's having to get through an investigation or case. Letting a client know what is happening helps with that and is something we try to do in every case.

I think it's important to make sure you get the best criminal defense attorney possible. The better they are, the more they will be able to help you out with your case! You don't want to run the risk of hiring someone unqualified, after all.

I don't plan on breaking the law in the future but it never hurts to be prepared. It was interesting to learn that an attorney can help to defend you well when in court since they have many years of experience under their belt. I can imagine how helpful an attorney can be when it comes to not being accused of something that you didn't do.

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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