How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana
If you are charged with a crime in Indiana, one of the best decisions you can make to protect your rights and future is to hire a skilled, qualified criminal defense lawyer in Indiana as early in the process as possible. Criminal law is a complex field, and anyone accused of a criminal offense needs an experienced attorney who will work with them throughout the process to identify the most beneficial strategies for defense and secure the best possible outcome. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you’ll find a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys ready to help you.
Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana to Represent You
Having criminal charges filed against you, or even knowing there is a threat of possible charges, causes a significant amount of stress. These charges can impact your freedom, finances, and future opportunities. You need a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana with the knowledge and ability to manage your case as effectively as possible. Your attorney should be your advocate, advisor, and champion throughout the legal process.
There are plenty of Indiana criminal defense attorneys out there, so how do you know how to choose the best one for you and your case? Understanding the criminal law process and what an attorney does at each stage of the process can help defendants know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer.
When to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Knowing when to hire a criminal defense lawyer is essential to preserving your rights and privileges in the criminal law system. The best answer to the question “when do I need to hire a defense attorney?” is: as soon as possible.
If you are further along in the process, however, don’t let lost time deter you from hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana you trust. The insight and skills of the right attorneys can be beneficial at every stage of the process. Understanding why this is the case requires a review of the Indiana criminal law process.
The stages of the criminal legal process in Indiana may include:
- Pre-arrest or investigation
- Pre-trial proceedings
- Post-conviction relief
In each stage of this process, Indiana criminal defense attorneys should be working and advocating on behalf of their clients.
What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana Do?
In the pre-arrest or investigation stage, your attorney should provide guidance to help protect your rights and avoid self-incrimination. If you are being interrogated about a crime, for example, your lawyer should be present and to advise you or step in to be sure you don’t accidentally provide responses that cast you in a poor light or are incriminating.
Your attorney may also be able to begin evaluating the evidence against you and formulating a plan for your defense, depending upon the situation. Finally, in some cases, your criminal defense lawyer in Indiana may be able to negotiate on your behalf in advance of any charges being filed, possibly resulting in lesser charges and penalties.
At your arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea: guilty or not guilty. If a plea agreement has been reached this early in your case, the agreement is presented to the court at this time. At this point, your attorney may request bail or that you be released on your own recognizance. If you plead guilty or enter into a plea bargain, a sentencing hearing is scheduled.
When a defendant pleads not guilty, the process moves forward to discovery and, closer to trial, a pre-trial conference. At this proceeding, the court reviews the status of all pending motions and that the attorneys have cooperated with discovery requests. The court also confirms the trial date.
In anticipation of your trial, you and your attorney will likely discuss the facts of your case and the evidence against you. Your lawyer may discuss recommendations for the best defense strategy to implement and arguments to be made as your case moves forward. In addition to managing the details, documents, and procedural aspects of your case, Indiana criminal defense attorneys also represent you and speak for you in court, identify and question witnesses in your favor, cross-examine witnesses brought by the prosecution, and argue your case to the judge or jury.
Even with the best legal representation, some cases result in a guilty verdict. If you are convicted, the next stage in the Indiana criminal law process is sentencing. At this point, your criminal defense lawyer in Indiana should work to get you as minimal a sentence as possible, providing evidence in support of your case and character. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate alternative sentencing or probation in some cases.
After a conviction, your lawyer can evaluate possible grounds for appeal. Appeals are a specific and especially complex area of the law, and defendants need skilled Indiana criminal defense attorneys on their team to gather evidence about what went wrong in the case and successfully argue the appeal.
An astute criminal defense attorney can also advise whether you might be eligible for post-conviction relief. A post-conviction relief proceeding is similar to an appeal in that it allows a defendant to challenge a legal aspect of the trial, conviction, or sentence. These proceedings are unique and must comply with the Indiana Rules of Post-Conviction Relief, making representation by a knowledgeable defense attorney a must.
Finally, if you were convicted of crimes in Indiana in the past, after a period of time that varies depending on the infraction, you may (in some cases) request that the records of your arrest and/or conviction be expunged. Expungement does not erase all records from existence, but it does shield them from public access, offering individuals who were previously convicted of crimes more opportunities and protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and more.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
As noted previously, all Indiana criminal defense attorneys are not equal. You may think you are just as well off in the hands of a public defender or even believe you are able to represent yourself in a criminal legal matter. With so much at stake, this can be a serious mistake. Too many defendants allow the potential cost of an experienced and qualified attorney to deter them from making the best possible decision for their future. Of course, that doesn’t mean that expensive legal services automatically equal quality representation either.
So how do you know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer? The following traits, skills, and factors are an excellent place to start:
- Knowledge of federal, state, and local criminal defense laws and systems
- Good relationships with local judges, attorneys, and court personnel
- Excellent investigative skills
- Strong interrogation skills and presence
- Knowledge of the various types of evidence that may be presented and potential flaws in evidence
- Strong case experience in the area in which you are charged
- Availability, a hands-on approach
- A strong support team
- Proven success rates
- Clear and understandable fees and costs as well as available payment options
- Positive references, reviews, and testimonials
- Good communication skills; ability to explain issues in layman’s terms
- Ability to listen
- Genuine concern for your preferences and outcomes
No single attorney is going to be the best criminal defense lawyer in Indiana for every case. However, you only need to find the right lawyer for your case. Evaluating the items above is a good place to start.
How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Individuals who are fighting for their freedom and future need Indiana criminal defense attorneys who are professional but also aggressive when they need to be. Criminal defendants are often made to feel like they have few options and little control over their future. That simply isn’t the case. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution promises you the right to an attorney as well as other rights.
If you’re wondering how to choose a criminal defense lawyer, consider the qualifications and factors above. Also consider this: a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana should be passionate about protecting the rights afforded to you under the law and ensuring that your case is handled in a manner that brings about the best possible outcome. If you meet with Indiana criminal defense attorneys who don’t convince you they are up to the task, don’t be afraid to move on and discuss your case with someone who will make it a top priority.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana at Keffer Hirschauer LLP
The founders and partners of Keffer Hirschauer LLP, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer, are former prosecutors with deep knowledge of the criminal law process from both sides. Bradley and Tom have assembled a team of dedicated, passionate attorneys who are supported by a knowledgeable, accessible staff of paralegals and legal professionals. Our Indiana criminal defense attorneys are talented negotiators who are also skilled in the courtroom and not afraid to argue your case there if they believe it is best.
Throughout the stages of the Indiana criminal law process, your criminal defense lawyer in Indiana from Keffer Hirschauer will work hard to achieve the best possible results in your case, communicating with you and helping you feel at ease along the way. Whether you need criminal defense for minor charges or issues, like traffic tickets and driver’s license suspension, or the charges against you are more serious, as in cases of DUI, drug crimes, violent crimes, white collar crimes, or many others, our Indiana criminal defense attorneys will give you their best. Call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete this online contact form to schedule a consultation.