If you get arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Cook County, it’s important that you take the charges seriously as jail time is a possibility. The goal is to get the best outcome possible. Sometimes that’s a dismissal of the charges. Sometimes it’s a not guilty finding at trial. Other times it’s getting supervision, probation or a low amount of jail time.
To get the best result possible, you need the best attorney for your case. But there is no such thing as the best Chicago criminal lawyer who would be the right choice no matter what you are charged with in Cook County. There are certain things you should know about finding the best one for you so you have the greatest chance of success.
1. In Chicago, there are seven different locations where your case could be heard. Most felonies will end up at 26th and California which is the main felony courthouse.
2. There are suburban courts in Skokie, Maywood, Bridgeview, Rolling Meadows and Markham.
3. Because your life is on the line when you have serious criminal charges, you should hire an attorney who is doing nothing but criminal defense (or close to it) all day every day.
4. It’s important that your lawyer do a lot of work at the courthouse where your case is being heard. You want them to have a relationship with the local Judge and prosecutors. They can’t know everyone, but the more they are there, the better chance of success that you have.
5. It’s not mandatory that your lawyer be a former prosecutor or public defender, but it can be helpful. We never recommend a criminal attorney who has less than 10 years of experience.
6. It’s not likely that an attorney goes to Markham and Rolling Meadows on a regular basis. Those courts are far from each other so the attorney would really be spreading themselves thin if they did that. In our opinion you are better served by hiring an attorney who mostly goes to the courthouse where your case will be.
7. Each year there are over 300,000 criminal arrests in Cook County. As a result there are a lot of experienced attorneys out there.
8. Beware attorneys whose first suggestion is to just plead guilty and get probation for paying them a small fee. That’s a guilty finding that will stay on your record. You want an attorney who examines the charges and advises you on the best and worst case scenarios.
9. Because there are so many cases, prosecutors are willing to cut deals. That’s where having an attorney who deals with them on a regular basis becomes important.
10. No lawyer handles just one type of criminal case, but you want to hire an attorney who has handled the charges against you before. In other words, if you get caught with a gun at O’Hare, it’s not enough to just hire a lawyer who has handled gun charges. You want one who has defended people accused of the exact same thing. This is partly why we don’t recommend attorneys who aren’t experienced.
11. It’s not unusual for attorneys who handle these cases to be one man/woman law firms.
12. Sometimes the first court hearing will be in the suburbs but the case will get transferred to 26th St. If it’s a felony charge, verify that your case isn’t going to change courts.
I hope this helps. If you’d like to speak with an attorney for free and get a recommendation of which Cook County criminal defense lawyer we think is best for you, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.