There are several steps necessary in selecting a good criminal defense lawyer in Rhode Island. As with finding any professional, be it medical, financial, or legal, you want to take as much time as necessary to select the one that best fits you and your circumstances. The problem here is that you don't always have the time to find a good lawyer who specialized in criminal defense in Rhode Island, especially if your case is moving along quickly.
The first step in narrowing down your potential criminal defense lawyers is to define exactly what your crime was and exactly what needs you have in an attorney. Nearly every lawyer specializes in some area of the law, and you want to be certain that your lawyer both knows criminal defense law and has experience in handling your type of case. If he or she doesn't, you may want to seek other legal representation. You also want to feel completely comfortable with your lawyer. In criminal defense cases, your lawyer may be all that stands between you and jail time, and you want to be sure you have absolute faith in your defense.
While the court can appoint you legal representation before your case goes to trial, there's no guarantee you'll get the best attorney available. If you have the time and money to afford your own lawyer, the best way to begin your legal search is to ask friends and family for recommendations. Employers and other legal organizations may also be able to refer you to legal counsel.
If you aren't able to find a criminal defense lawyer from a recommendation, the Rhode Island Bar Association may be able to refer you to an attorney. These lawyers will give you a half-hour free consultation, and if they can't help you, they will refer you to someone who can. Also, assistance with your legal fees may be available if you meet certain income qualifications.
Under the Rhode Island Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Program, you may qualify for free legal services. Again, you must meet specific low-income qualifications. Also, the list of volunteer lawyers may not always be the same, and at times, a criminal defense lawyer may not be available for pro bono work. In that case, you will have to seek out other legal representation.