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How to Find a Good Criminal Defense Attorney – 5 Key Tips
A loved one of yours was recently arrested for a criminal offense, say a white-collar crime or DUI. You are now in desperate need to find a criminal defense attorney. Are there certain factors you should be considering?
Yes. There are five key tips to consider when looking for a good criminal defense attorney. These are that you want to find a criminal lawyer that is:
specialized in criminal law,
supported by a team of legal professionals,
more about honesty and hard work than guarantees.
Please know that if you cannot afford a private criminal defense lawyer, you can always try to contact your local public defender’s office for representation.1
1. Do you want a criminal lawyer that specializes in criminal law?
Most often, yes. The right criminal defense attorney is usually a lawyer that practices solely in the area of criminal cases.
Some lawyers may advertise that they can help with criminal charges, but that they also represent clients in such matters as:
medical malpractice, and
While it is fine for an attorney to wear more than one hat, you ideally want an attorney that focuses on criminal matters and continues to:
stay abreast of new criminal laws and court rulings,
represent clients on criminal charges in local courts, and
Most attorneys can only gain the above experience if they specialize in practicing criminal law.
Keep in mind that you will also want a criminal lawyer that has experience representing clients on charges similar to yours. If you are facing a charge of a violent crime, you do not want a law office that typically only handles drunk driving cases or minor misdemeanor offenses.
In contrast, you want legal representation from a lawyer that has experience with such matters as homicide, assault, rape, aggravated domestic violence charges, and/or robbery.
2. Should your criminal defense attorney be supported by a legal team?
Most often, yes. The right lawyer for you is usually one that has a support staff in place.
An ideal support staff for a law firm typically includes:
other criminal lawyers,
The criminal justice system is difficult to navigate on your own. This is especially true if a criminal lawyer has multiple cases.
A support staff will ensure that:
your case gets the attention it deserves,
all court deadlines are met ahead of schedule, and
all of your legal needs are met.
3. Does it matter if your defense attorney is responsive?
Yes. A shared quality within any of the best criminal defense attorneys is that they are responsive to your needs.
You want a criminal defense attorney who:
takes your contact information and returns your phone calls and emails,
tackles your particular legal issues,
informs you of case updates when they develop, and
provides legal advice at every important stage of your case.
Criminal charges can cause anxiety and highlevels of stress. An attorney that is not responsive to your needs only adds to your worries and strain.
If you are not certain if a lawyer is responsive, try to look at the professional’s testimonials. You can also ask for referrals of attorneys that are receptive and accessible.
4. Is a good defense lawyer reputable?
Yes. You want a criminal defense lawyer that has a good reputation in the legal community. A good reputation helps in:
boosting your confidence in your lawyer’s representation,
your lawyer’s ability to reach a plea bargain with a prosecutor,
your attorney’s ability to secure and work with expert witnesses, and
ensuring that every detail of your case is under consideration.
To help make certain that your lawyer is reputable, check for any complaints filed against your attorney in the state bar association that he/she is a member of.
5. What if a potential defense attorney is all about guarantees?
Be wary. The law is not always 100 percent predictable. No lawyer can predict with absolute certainty how a judge or jury will rule.
Given these realties, be careful not to get persuaded by an attorney that guarantees a specific result.
You definitely want a defense lawyer that is confident. However, watch out for an attorney that tries to sell his/her representation via promises.
It is helpful here to look at an attorney’s track record. Check to see if a lawyer’s past actions can support the statements that he/she is making to you.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.