If you or someone you love is facing a criminal offense, you likely have many questions--including which lawyer to hire. In times like this, it's only natural to seek the advice of friends and family.
As you may not reside in the same state as your loved one or support system, the name of an out-of-state lawyer may come up, begging the question, "Can I hire a lawyer from another state to represent me in court?"
This article will explain the circumstances when someone charged with a crime in one state would and would not be able to hire a criminal defense lawyer from another state, such as Wisconsin, to represent their legal case in another state.
If I'm Facing Federal Charges, Which Lawyer Can Help Me?
If you (or a loved one) are facing federal charges, you are free to choose a lawyer from any state to help defend your case, as long as that lawyer agrees to take your case and is equipped to do so.
The challenge can lie in finding an attorney who is both willing and able to work in other states. Some attorneys may prefer to keep their clients confined to a certain geographic location based on convenience or their professional comfort level. Other lawyers may not want to spend their time acquiring permission or the necessary credentials to be able to try a case in another state.
But, there are lawyers who would be willing to take the necessary measures so that they can, indeed, help you with your federal case--especially if an existing client of that attorney makes a referral to an out-of-state friend, family member or colleague.
It is in your best interest to contact an attorney who is experienced trying federal cases out of state. You don't want to be a test case for an inexperienced attorney's benefit when you may be facing high fines, prison time or other serious consequences.
Watch as Madison-based Attorney Pat Stangl explains when you can hire a lawyer from another state and when you need to seek in-state legal representation:
"If you don't live in Wisconsin and you have a federal case, then we can help you. We just have to be admitted into the particular federal bar that your case is from, which has never been a problem in the past. So, we've helped people in Minnesota, California and Indiana with their federal cases.
Typically, the cases that we've handled...have been referrals, so someone knew of us and they referred us to the particular individual who needed help in those other states.
If you're charged or convicted in another state under their state laws, then we can't help you."
-Attorney Pat Stangl
If you or someone you love is facing federal charges, do not risk the outcome of that case by putting off contacting an established and qualified criminal defense attorney to provide legal advice as soon as possible.
Can I Hire An Out-of-State Attorney to Defend Me Against State Charges?
As mentioned above, if you have been charged with a crime in a state court (not federal court), you will need to hire an attorney who is authorized to work in that state.
While you do not need to be a resident of a particular state to be charged with an offense in that state (such as drug possession, battery, drunk driving, etc.), your criminal defense attorney does need to have passed the bar and be certified to practice law in that state in order to defend your case.
While there are varying rules relating to this issue depending on the state(s) involved, as a general rule, you will want to hire a criminal defense attorney from the state in which you were charged with the criminal offense, because--beyond being able to practice in the state, that attorney is more likely to be well-versed in the complications of that state's laws.
The following examples can better illustrate examples of when you might need to hire an attorney from another state to represent you or a loved one facing state charges:
- If you are a resident of Illinois but were picked up for drunk driving or OWI in Wisconsin, you would want to hire an experienced OWI attorney based in Wisconsin.
- You and your family are Iowa residents, but your teenage son or daughter is charged with drug offense charges in Wisconsin, you would want to hire a criminal defense attorney from Wisconsin.
- While you have relocated to another state, such as Minnesota, your estranged spouse still lives in Wisconsin and has filed battery charges against you. You might consider hiring a proven, Wisconsin-based defense attorney to defend your case.
With severe penalties such as jail time and high fines on the line, you will want to be sure you are receiving the best possible legal representation to defend your case. Hiring an attorney who is certified to practice law in the state in which the criminal offense you or your loved one is facing, would be in your best interest.
It is possible to find an attorney who is allowed to work in multiple states. Once in a while, you may encounter a lawyer who has passed the bar in more than one state and is allowed to defend cases involving state charges in those states.
Which lawyer is and is not allowed to represent you depends upon the state in which you were charged, so if you receive a referral from a friend or family member, do not hesitate to reach out to see if that attorney would be able to take your case.
If you are facing criminal charges of any kind--state or federal, do not put off getting your defense organized. Contact a skilled attorney experienced in trying federal cases right away.
FREE 15-Minute Consultation
If you have been charged with a criminal offense at either the state or federal level--inside or outside of Wisconsin--and have questions or just don't know where to start, Attorney Pat Stangl is happy to extend to you, at no obligation, a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your case, explore your options and get you pointed in the right direction.