How Do I Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

How Do I Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer? 1

When you’re facing criminal charges, there are many variables that can affect the consequences. And criminal charges of one kind or another make the selection of a legal representative vital.

According to Pew Research, in 2019, the FBI reported a total of 2,109.9 property crimes per 100,000 people, compared with 379.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people.  And crime ‘types’ vary greatly, depending upon not just the nature of the alleged ‘crime’, but also whether it is a federal or state offence that a person is being charged with.

By far the most common form of property crime is generally larceny/theft, followed by burglary and motor vehicle theft. Among violent crimes, aggravated assault was the most common offense, followed by robbery, rape, and murder/non-negligent manslaughter.

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can make a difference in your case’s outcome in the most dramatic way.

While there are many criminal defense lawyers, choosing the first one you see may not be the best option.

There are certain factors to consider when finding the right lawyer to defend you against the charges. The right attorney may be able to get your charges dismissed or have your sentence reduced. If you rush into things or hire the cheapest option, you may very well come to regret it.

Why Choose a Private Attorney Over a Public Defender?


The Sixth Amendment guarantees your right to an attorney, though choosing a criminal defense lawyer from a private law firm is a better option.

Public defenders work with you free of charge; however, they have a larger caseload and fewer resources at their disposal. When you hire your own lawyer at your expense, they will have a greater amount of time to devote to your case.

Additionally, your defense attorney will be able to obtain certain resources that a public defender won’t always be able to access. Private experts, expert witnesses, and dedicated investigators are some of the powerful people your attorney will enlist on your behalf.

Public defenders are often linked to one particular county, while a criminal defense lawyer at a private law practice is not. If you are facing charges that span multiple counties or have separate offenses, hiring a private attorney means they can represent you on all charges.

Important Considerations for Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

While there are many qualified attorneys to represent you against your criminal charges, you will want to consider more than the cost of hiring them. The number of years of experience the attorney has is an important thing to consider, though there are other factors to look at to find the best attorney to defend you.

Every case is unique, which is why it’s ideal to find an attorney who doesn’t just have years of experience practicing criminal defense.

They should also be experienced in the type of crime you have been charged within your county or State.

How Do I Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer? 2

They should also have a track record in the area of criminal law that you are concerned with, whether it’s a big firm criminal lawyer such as that selected to defend actor Alex Baldwin (left) in the ‘Rust’ shooting case, or the lawyer who recently defended billionaire Elon Musk in a major case, Alex Spiro.

You should also feel comfortable discussing your case with the attorney you choose. You are entrusting them with a serious matter that will impact your future and your freedom. Time is of the essence, but don’t be in a hurry to hire the first attorney you see.

Make sure you find one that checks all the boxes for what you need in a criminal defense lawyer.

Mistakes People Make When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the most common mistakes people make when they hire a criminal defense lawyer is to take the one with the cheapest rates.

Budget may be a concern, but be wary of those that advertise exceedingly low prices. Your future is at stake, and you must choose the most qualified lawyer to take on your case.

Choosing the first lawyer you speak with is another common mistake. Talk to several other attorneys before you make your decision. You may come to find that the first lawyer you spoke to makes big promises without telling you what the realistic outcomes could be in your case.

The right attorney will tell you what to expect when you go to court without harping on the worst-case scenario or leading you to believe everything will be okay when you’re facing serious charges.

You need to know the experience within the relevant jurisdiction and the criminal law area that you are dealing with.

The level of their experience is vital to determine whether you are on the right track to select a winning lawyer who can effectively deal with your case.

Steps to Take When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Keep in mind that when you’re hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Virginia, California or Arizona for instance, your decision should be based on your specific needs, but also with an attorney you can rely upon and relate to.

It’s great to get a referral from someone you know, but that lawyer may not have the experience needed in the type of charges against you to be of assistance.

To hire the right attorney, you should take the following steps:

Choose an Attorney with Experience in Your State

The attorney you seek must practice regularly in the jurisdiction in which you have been charged.

A local attorney will have strong ties to the judges and prosecutors. They will know what to expect from them and can use this information to benefit your case.

It is important to choose a lawyer with a good reputation. You can check online reviews or ask for referrals from friends and family members to ascertain the level of their experience and overall reputation.

Your Attorney Should Have Trial Experience

When you choose your criminal defense lawyer, you want one that frequents the courts on a regular basis.

You need to be able to count on them for the long haul to see your case through and be able to represent you in court if necessary. You also need them to be able to pursue the best possible outcome in your situation.

Choose an Attorney That You Trust

Trusting your attorney and confiding in them will make it easier for them to represent you.

You certainly don’t want to hire someone you have a hard time communicating with as you’ll be spending a great deal of time working together. The criminal defense lawyer you choose will be sharing important advice, and you must feel confident that you can trust them and that they will communicate effectively with you also.

Use the initial consultation as a chance to ask the right questions to see if this is the right person to defend your rights.

Remember, your attorney will be your advocate throughout this entire ordeal. Their experience in defending crimes similar to yours is an important factor. You may like their personality, but if they lack experience, you’ll need to keep looking.

Ultimately, your criminal defense lawyer is someone you will be working closely with until your case reaches a conclusion.

For the best possible results, don’t let the cost or the urgency to put this behind you muddle your thinking.

Carefully weigh all the relevant factors before making a selection, given that the ‘correct’ selection is something that can have long-term repercussions.

Source: Michael Pignone, Criminal Defense Attorney

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