Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal defense is a highly nuanced area of law that requires expertise from assertive, driven, and experienced attorneys. The legal team at Banks & Brower is all of these traits and more. Attorneys Brad Banks and Adam Brower are former Indiana prosecutors, and give our law firm a unique, inside perspective on criminal defense cases. You’ll have a team with prosecution experience on your side, giving you an edge in the courtroom and insight into how the other side thinks and strategizes. We have the tools, resources, and talent you need for unwavering criminal defense in Indianapolis.
Why and When You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our firm will almost always recommend hiring a criminal defense attorney if someone has accused you of a crime or the county has issued a formal charge against you. This is because a criminal conviction could ruin your life. Even without a conviction, the charge alone could impact your reputation or hurt business. A good attorney can stay ahead of developments to your case, keeping you updated with the latest information and actions you can take to protect your future. Working with the right lawyer can help in virtually any criminal case, from a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest to allegations of crimes against children.
A criminal defense lawyer is necessary, as going up against the prosecution alone can be a difficult task. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of criminal law will recommend professional representation during arraignments, hearings, and trials. If you can’t afford to retain a private attorney, ask the courts to assign you a public defender. A public defender might not have the time or attention to dedicate to your case like a private firm would, but it’s better than choosing to self-represent. When your entire future is at stake, don’t trust anyone but a licensed attorney with your case.
The burden of a criminal charge can weigh heavily on your mind. Partnering with a reputable and proven criminal defense lawyer can significantly ease the burden, helping you achieve confidence and peace of mind. Whether you’re facing criminal charges relating to drug or alcohol crimes, violent crimes, assault and battery, crimes against children, fraud or financial crimes, robbery, burglary, sex crimes, theft, property crimes, or minor consumption, Banks & Brower can help. We can also assist with criminal record expungements in Indianapolis.
What Makes A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer?
One of the main questions a defendant asks when facing a potential criminal offense is, “who is the best criminal defense attorney in Indiana?” And, if you think about it, that makes sense. Criminal cases have the potential to have lifelong consequences. So, it leads to reason that anyone who is facing a criminal offense is going to try to track down the best criminal attorney for their particular case. The list below is meant as a quick guide to finding the best lawyer for you in any given situation. Obviously, choosing a lawyer is a very personal decision. Many factors go into deciding who to hire…and, while you may find someone that you truly think would be best based on the factors below, other factors can have an influence such as location, price, and availability. However, we hope these ten factors will help lead you in the right direction.
Knowledge of the County and Players (Judge and Prosecutors)
While this factor may have been more important a few years ago, with the advent of technology and the internet, it is much easier for attorneys to have a presence through the entire state. The old adage was hire a courthouse square lawyer who has beers with the prosecutors and/or judges. While that could be helpful in some situations, most lawyers travel throughout the entire state of Indiana. And, as a lawyer travels around the state, they inevitably build relationships with prosecutors and judges all throughout the state. As such, the courthouse square lawyer is not so necessary. However, what is necessary is an awareness of all the relevant players in the county where the case exists. Your lawyer should know (and be known by) all the prosecutors and judges involved. The knowledge of the players involved helps the lawyer develop strategy on how best to move forward with the case. If you don’t have that knowledge, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Years of Experience & Specialized Experience
The old saying of “you can’t buy experience” is true for lawyers. The only way you can become seasoned is to practice law as often as you can for as long as you can. That requires trying cases to jury and bench, managing large caseloads, and traveling the state to meet and form relationships. As in item (4) below, prosecutorial experience is good as well. Another important factor is whether or not an attorney has specialized experience in a certain area of law. For example, if you are charged with a sex crime, it almost always makes sense to hire someone who has prosecuted sex crimes in the past and/or has handled many sex related offenses — especially crimes involving children. The rules of evidence are very unique in that area of law and experience is crucial. The same goes for DUI’s and drug related offenses. So, if you are facing crimes of that nature, look for attorneys with experience in those areas.
While there is a saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, that isn’t true in criminal law. The best place to find a good lawyer is reading online reviews of lawyers. While a lawyer cannot make clients happy 100% of the time, you should find people with at least a 4.8/5.0 rating with over 50 reviews. Otherwise, the sample is too low. We would also caution people into hiring lawyers with no reviews are very few reviews with only high marks. If you are representing a lot of people over a long period of time, you should have multiple reviews. A good sample size is 50, as that is just enough to show experience and will likely show you a range of perceptions of the lawyers.
Personality of Lawyer
This is crucial. While personality doesn’t always matter in a case, it does the majority of the time. You will be spending countless months with your attorney, so having one you like it important. However, even more importantly, the lawyer needs to have a personality that others like (i.e. court staffs, prosecutors, other lawyers, and judges). It is amazing the number of lawyers out there that are despised by the opposition. While consternation is powerful in certain situations, chronic personality conflicts is a problem. You get more honey with kindness than vinegar. What prosecutors need to know is that your lawyer can be tough when necessary. However, being tough for tough sake is not helpful. Personality goes a long way. As in (8) above, personality is often seen in reviews from former clients as well.
Availability & Access
One of the main things that makes a client happy or upset is their access to their lawyer. We at Banks & Brower are available 24/7, but not all firms are like that. While it is OK for your lawyer to be busy, as that shows success, however you still want a lawyer that is timely, responds quickly, and is accessible when you need them. Going through a criminal case is a very stressful situation. And, as we say in the business, people don’t typically get in trouble from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. As such, lawyers need to be available as often as the clients need them. You can typically find out someone’s availability and access by reviewing their online reviews as well. If someone has a lot of reviews, there will typically be information on their availability and access.
Good Staff, Office Size & Case Management
Every good lawyer has good staff. While solo practitioners may be cheaper because their overhead is low, it almost always makes sense to hire a lawyer from a firm that has paralegals, interns, and other lawyers who can be there to assist. A lawyer can only be in one place at a time, and when they are traveling all over the state, they need staff to assist their clients when needed.Whether it is help with court coverage, filing legal documents, and/or maintaining client contact, office staff is crucial. Along with good office staff, a good client management system is essential. Here at Banks & Brower we use a Clio Software program that shares everything with the client electronically. That includes dates, times, documents, and billing. A good case management system allows for transparency, which is essential to any good client relationship.
Not everyone has been a former prosecutor. However, having been one is priceless experience. The experience having been a prosecutor allows your lawyer to know both sides of every issue, to think critically, and to evaluate cases appropriately. Knowing how they think is a great advantage to your defense…and you only know that by having been a prosecutor. Having been a prosecutor also guarantees trial experience and skill. Anyone who has been a successful prosecutor has tried tens if not hundreds of trials, and that litigation experience is essential in defending clients in the future. Not all firms have former prosecutors working there, however, three attorneys at Banks & Brower were former prosecutors – Brad Banks, Adam Brower, and Brandon Knight.
Legal Associations, Accreditation, and Awards
When reviewing any potential lawyer, it is important that you check and see if they are apart of any professional organizations, if they have been awarded any accolades, and whether or not the have a strong industry recognition. When outside agencies name the attorney to directors of other distinguished lawyers, it shows they are accepted by the legal community, have had success in their respective field, and have been verified by the accreditation boards associated therewith. Any good lawyer who has been around and had success should be named to distinguished legal societies, be apart of local bar programs, and or have received awards for their legal skills. Otherwise, they may not have the experience that is necessary to defend you appropriately.
Successful and Diverse Trial Experience
Without a doubt, this is one of the most important factors to consider. Why? Because prosecutors have to have some level of fear and/or respect for your lawyer that if a deal isn’t reached, that your lawyer is a good trial litigator. Otherwise, the prosecutor will dig in and refuse to negotiate, as they have no respect for your lawyer as a litigator. If you have tried tens and hundreds of trials, you have the skill set and confidence to litigate any type of case. If you are scared of the courtroom and/or a jury, you cannot advocate for your client the way you should. As such, one of the first questions you should ask any attorney is, “how many cases have you tried, and how often were you successful?”
Reputation in the Legal Community
This is without question the most important factor. If you do research on your lawyers, look for anything that talks about the reputation of the lawyer and industry recognition. You do not want to walk into a courtroom with a lawyer that no one respects and laughs at. You want someone that everyone respects and has confidence in. You want someone that everyone knows and trusts. Otherwise, you will be perceived the way your lawyer is…and that can be a dangerous thing….so don’t risk it to save a couple of bucks. You typically get what you pay for.
Steps in an Indianapolis Criminal Case
As a criminal defendant in Indianapolis, it helps to know what to expect during your criminal case. While each case is unique and may involve particular actions and processes that others will not, there is a basic system the majority of Indianapolis criminal cases follow. Learning about the path of a criminal case can give you more information about the case against you, as well as your rights and responsibilities as a defendant:
- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police is the main law enforcement agency making arrests in Marion County, Indiana. Police must follow certain rules when making an arrest, including specific arrest protocols. During arrest, do not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. The less you say during arrest and detainment, the better.
- Law enforcement officers make arrests, but they are not the entity that actually brings charges against suspects. Instead, the District Attorney or other government entity will conduct an investigative report into the arrest and determines whether or not to formally charge the individual with a crime, and if so, what crime to charge.
- Do not miss your initial hearing date. Show up on time and in proper attire. Communicating with a criminal defense attorney before your initial hearing can give you important advice and information about your case. This hearing is where the court will inform you of any formal charges against you.
- The discovery phase is a time period (taking a few weeks or months) in which your attorney will investigate the prosecution’s case to find out what evidence they may or may not have against you, which witnesses they might bring in to testify, and other information. Discovery typically involves depositions of both sides.
- Before your official trial, the judge in charge of your case will check with the attorneys of both sides to assess the progress of the case. Both parties will meet before the judge in an effort to expedite the case, discourage unnecessary pretrial activities, improve the quality of the trial through adequate preparation.
Review of counsel
- This other pretrial activity serves to help you retain a free or low-cost public defender if you have not already retained a private attorney. Most parties will qualify for a public defender if they cannot afford a lawyer.
- Your attorney will discuss your case with you to come up with the best possible defense strategy. Give your lawyer all the facts of your case – even those you feel incriminate you. The law obligates your attorney to act in your best interests, and to keep all information in the lawyer-client relationship strictly confidential.
Plea agreement and sentencing
- If you and your attorney agree to enter a plea deal, you will strive to reach an agreement with the courts. At this point, your case can end and you will receive your sentence.
- If you cannot reach a plea deal or other agreement at this point, a jury trial will ensue. In these cases, a jury of your peers will listen to both sides of the case and determine if you’re innocent or guilty. If not guilty, you are free to go without a criminal conviction. If guilty, the judge will issue your sentence.
The more you know about the criminal justice system in Indiana, the better you can navigate it. As always, seek help from your attorney with any questions or concerns you may have. Banks & Brower’s criminal defense attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience and can help you with your individual case in Indianapolis. Call us as soon as possible after an arrest at (317) 870-0019. You can also request your free initial consultation online.