How to Select a Criminal Defense Attorney




It is not an easy job to choose the right criminal defense attorney for yourself or for someone you love. The purpose of this guide was to help you get through this crucial time and make the procedure of choosing the right attorney simple for you.

What Kind of Attorney You Need


1. First of all you need to determine, if you need a defense attorney. Talking to a criminal lawyer always benefits when you are facing a criminal charge. If you choose not to hire the services of an attorney, he can still help you understand the charges against you, the defenses available to you. He can also tell you what to do in case you are found guilty.



  • When the charges against you are serious, a defense attorney is strongly recommended in order to represent you in court instead of just consulting with him or her.


2. As stated earlier the job of a criminal defense attorney is to represent people or organizations charged with a crime. Normally criminal defense attorneys have the experience to handle the cases like yours and know the kind of situation you are in, so they are in better position to give you some useful suggestions.

  • Defense attorneys are able to identify key pretrial issues and sometimes they are successful in having your case dismissed.


3. You also need to know what kind of defense attorney you need. You need to decide if a state or federal attorney can give what you need. You will the need the services of an attorney that specializes in state law, if you have broken a state law. Common examples of state law cases include robberies, traffic violations and family disputes. Remember federal cases involve cases such as bankruptcy cases, copyright cases and patent cases.

  •  You will need the services of an experienced defense attorney, in case you are being charged with breaking a federal law. Only an experienced defense attorney can get you out of the trouble. The reason is simple as cases involving federal law are not that simple. The element of complexity involved in federal cases requires federal defense attorneys to be more experienced than state attorneys.

  •  If someone breaks a federal law, he is prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office and that is the main difference between breaking state and federal laws. A prosecutor from United States Attorney’s office has enough time and resources to dedicate to prosecuting you. It also means that the prosecution in a federal case is much stronger as compared to the prosecution in a state case. You can improve the chances of winning the case by hiring the services of an experienced and seasoned criminal defense attorney.


4. You need a kind of criminal defense attorney who specializes in the area of defense that you need. Generally criminal defense attorneys handle routine criminal defense cases but there are some who specialize in a specific area of defense. Some criminal defense attorneys chose to focus on rape defense, violent crime defense or other areas of specialty. Remember, it is very difficult to find a lawyer who specializes in a particular crime. Simply you need a lawyer who is willing to dedicate enough time to understand your case.

  • A lawyer can only claim to be a specialist when he is recognized by an outside agency. In many states there is a State Bar which offers specialization in law and is the ultimate authority on credibility. Feel free to have a look at the designations offered to see if a specialization aligns with your case.

  • Trial stage which is also the most common stage in court and there are a lot of attorneys who represent clients in the trial stage. Additional experience and certifications are required for appellate attorneys. In addition they are also able to represent clients in specific courts. If you are thinking about appealing a decision in a lower court, select an experienced attorney who has the ability to practice in a higher court for your jurisdiction.


5. You should know how a defense attorney is different from a public defender. Those who are unable to afford private attorneys for some reasons can have the services of public defenders. But before you hire public defenders you should know that they will not be able to dedicate enough time to understand your case which ultimately results in less justice.

  • There are a lot of public defenders who are busy in managing more than hundred cases. The number of cases handled by those public defenders is much more than the maximum number of cases which American Bar Association recommends. There is no doubt that the public defenders love their job and they do their job honestly. But the burden of cases may affect their ability to represent the case of their client in criminal court.


6. Name the qualities which you believe are important to you. There are some traits everyone should try to look for while selecting a criminal defense attorney such as good communication skills, relevant experience and high-quality negotiating skills.

  • If the attorney has the experience of handling cases, similar to yours, in the past, he may be the right person for you. You should also try to know the final result of those cases. Was the attorney successful in getting the desired result for his client?


7. You must do your research before finalizing a defense attorney. First of all do all the research work about the attorney and also interview him about the cases he has been handling as this is the only way to make sure you get what you are looking for. It is very important if the lawyer belongs to the County and State Bar Associations.

  • It is important for you to know the views of the people who work with the lawyer. You should try to know what they think about the lawyer.

  • Martindale-Hubbell rating is also very important in this regard. He is excellent lawyer if his rating is “AV”. He is good if his rating is “BV” or”CV”. These ratings play an important role in the selection of a criminal defense attorney.


8. The educational background of the criminal defense lawyer is also very important. Is he a graduate of a prestigious law college or law school of the country? You can get a lot of information by visiting his website.

  •  Teaching experience at a law school is a big plus point you should look for. Find out if the lawyer has ever published a legal article. A lawyer involved in such activities indicates his devotion and loyalty to his work.