What can I expect from an initial consultation with a criminal defense attorney?

Soon after being charged with a crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Many attorneys offer initial consultations.  This serves two purposes.  First, it gives you and the attorney a quick snapshot of your case so the two of you can determine whether the attorney possesses the qualifications to take your case.  You should find out: 

  • what the typical retainer fee is for your charge,
  • whether the attorney handles your kind of case often,
  • how often the attorney appears in that court, and
  • whether the attorney represents clients at the highest levels of Kansas courts. 

The answers to these questions will let you know whether the attorney is competent to provide good advice and whether the attorney can set your case up in the best way possible if you go to trial or if an appeal is necessary.  

A sub-purpose here is for the two of you to build trust.  Your attorney has to trust that he or she will get all of the information necessary to provide you with excellent legal advice.  And, you must trust that the advice you receive from your attorney will put you in position to achieve the best outcome possible. 

Secondly, the initial consultation should give you an idea of where you sit with your case. Based on the facts you provide, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to tell you: 

  • a brief explanation of your charges,
  • the maximum possible penalty and the probable penalty for said charges, and
  • general legal options, such as trial, diversion, or pleas. 

Finally, you shouldn’t expect to have all of your questions answered.  At this point in your case the attorney has not had the opportunity to review reports, watch videos, interview witnesses, or research the specific applicable law.  That being said, when you leave your initial consultation you should not feel pressured to hire that attorney.  You should feel informed about your situation, understand the options, and know your next steps as you navigate through the criminal justice system.


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