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Guide to Finding Virginia Criminal Lawyer

Guide to Finding Virginia Criminal Lawyer

A Virginia defense lawyer is your best option when facing a criminal matter in Virginia.  Not only will the Virginia defense lawyer be able to mount a competent defense with knowledge of state and local laws, the lawyer will also be a member of the mandatory bar association and subject to its professional and ethical standard.  Choosing a Virginia defense lawyer over another out of state lawyer is not recommended, especially when dealing with criminal matters

What is the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers?
The VACDL is a statewide organization of Virginia defense lawyers that work to protect the rights of criminal defendants and advocate for their rights in the justice system.  This organization is opposed to the death penalty and lobbies for legislation that will protects the rights of the accused in Virginia.  Younger Virginia defense lawyers will join this organization to take advantage of mentoring services offered which will improve their professional profile and demeanor in court.  A Virginia defense lawyer that is a member of the VACDL will have a high level of professional development and will be able to mount a reliable defense in court, which might make the difference between the maximum penalty and a less harsh sentence or even exoneration, if the Virginia defense lawyer is able to bring reasonable doubt into the case.
How do I know my Virginia defense lawyer is legitimate?
Bar Association membership is mandatory and the Virginia State Bar is an agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia.  As such, all lawyers that practice law in Virginia must be a member of the Virginia State Bar.  If the lawyer does not have proof of active membership then you should not retain the services of the Virginia defense lawyer.  All Virginia defense lawyers must abide by the Virginia “Professional Guidelines and Rules of Professional Conduct” which is set by the VSB with the administration of the Supreme Court.  Clients of Virginia defense lawyer can be assured that there are dispute resolution and complaint mechanisms within the VSB to investigate misconduct.
Finding a Virginia defense lawyer
You may use this website to find an attorney using the Find Attorney function at the top of the page.
The mandatory Virginia Bar maintains the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service to help the public find a Virginia defense lawyer.  A lawyer that is a member of the VLRS is entitled to charge no more than $35 for an initial half hour consultation.  Referral specialists will do intake for the service when a potential client calls and that specialist will connect you to a specialized lawyer that will able to handle your case appropriately.  This is also an information agency and can direct you to another agency is it is determined that your problem does not require a lawyer.  There is no additional cost for the use of this service and it is the responsibility of the client to make contact with the lawyer.
This service operates from 9 – 5 on weekdays and there is no obligation for either the client or Virginia defense lawyer to meet beyond the initial consultation, although fees may be discussed beyond the initial half hour if time is exceeded.
How do I prepare for my consultation?
Any time you meet with a Virginia defense lawyer, you must be completely honest and conceal nothing.  Bring an account of all facts of the case including possible witnesses and evidence that can be used against you, to your knowledge.  You want the Virginia defense lawyer to be as prepared as possible to defend you at trial.  Incomplete information will compromise your case and there is only so much a Virginia defense lawyer can do at that point to prove your innocence or secure a favorable plea bargain.
It is your responsibility to know the fees that you will be charged so you must leave the consultation with a benchmark of how much you can expect to be charged initially and how these fees might increase or change if the case drags on.  Be sure to get all fees in writing in case you need to dispute the fees later on, either with the lawyer or with the State Bar Association.  If you are overbilled for services, this written fee agreement will be important.
What will I pay for the services of a Virginia defense lawyer?
The length of the case, the determination of the prosecution to convict you and the number or nature of the offenses will determine the length of the case.  This will correlate directly into the legal fees you will pay, depending on the fee arrangement.
Hourly fees are not recommended for criminal defense cases due to the number of hearings and legal preparation that will need to be done during the process.  Hourly fees are high as a lawyer’s time is valuable and you may be able to reap the most utility out of your legal representation through other payment agreements.
A retainer agreement is common and for some Virginia defense lawyers, mandatory.  The retainer account is billed as the lawyer performs services and will need to be refilled at the lawyer’s discretion.  Understand that this can be expensive in longer trials and this trust account has the potential to be overbilled by a less than scrupulous lawyer.  Ensure that your lawyer is trustworthy before agreeing to be billed by retainer.
Take advantage of free consultations when they are available to discuss potential fees and payment arrangements with Virginia defense lawyers.  The above fee arrangements do not consider court costs, which are also paid by the client.  You may be able to arrange low cost and extended payment for legal services at the discretion of the attorney or law firm.
Free and pro bono services are also available, the most popular being public defenders.  All other free services will be limited both in scope and availability.  Defending juvenile offenders or indigent persons are popular services provided by legal pro bono organizations.  There will also be criminal defense clinics where you can receive free legal advice, but not legal representation.  You will generally have to take the services of a public defender if you cannot afford a lawyer, but you may be able to receive quality representation from a pro bono Virginia defense lawyer if your case is compelling enough and you meet the set eligibility requirements.
What are questions to ask Virginia defense lawyer?
How does my case relate to Virginia state and local laws?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
If I am a juvenile defendant, what are the chances I will be tried as an adult?
Should I take a plea bargain arrangement to lessen the charges against me?