How do I Choose the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

When charged with a criminal offense, one major step a defendant must take is choosing the best criminal defense lawyer. This decision may be critical to the eventual outcome of a trial. Choosing the best criminal defense lawyer can be a difficult process, with many concerns such as fee, trial history, and experience in the type of charges a client is facing.

A lawyer's level of experience should be considered when choosing a criminal defense lawyer.
A lawyer's level of experience should be considered when choosing a criminal defense lawyer.

It's fairly general knowledge that lawyers can be expensive; depending on the area of expertise and the reputation of the lawyer, even an initial consultation can cost hundreds of US dollars (USD). Before choosing a defense lawyer, ask specific questions about fees, services available, and what will happen based on the verdict. It may also help to consult public welfare organizations that help with low-cost or free legal aid, as they can often direct a person to lawyers willing to take a case for less money. Depending on the region, a person with no financial resources to hire a lawyer may be assigned a public defender for no charge. It is important to remember that a public defender has the same obligation to responsibly act on his or her client's behalf as a paid lawyer.

It is now both possible and easy to use the Internet to find the best criminal defense lawyer. Many lawyers have websites with information about their firm, education history, and trial record. Lawyers often specialize in a particular type of case or criminal area; choosing the best criminal defense lawyer may take some research to determine how many similar cases a lawyer has defended, and his or her win/loss record. It's important to note that a win/loss record does not always indicate whether a person is a good or bad lawyer; some great lawyers choose cases they believe in, even if chances of winning are low.

With hundreds of criminal statutes in local, state, and federal or regional law, choosing the best criminal defense lawyer may be a matter of finding an attorney with considerable experience in the particular charges a client is facing. An excellent murder defense lawyer may have no experience with grand theft auto charges, so it is important to get an idea of a lawyer's area of expertise. Most lawyers will post the type of charges they or their firm have experience handling.

Some websites now allow past clients to post ratings of attorney. With something as important as choosing a criminal defense lawyer, reading the responses of past clients can be extremely illuminating. In addition to getting a person a fair verdict, a good lawyer will often have reviews that praise his or her attentiveness and sensitivity to a client in an obviously difficult situation. Even if a person is admittedly guilty, the best criminal defense lawyer with treat him or her with dignity and respect, and work hard to ensure a fair trial.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


Great article. Finding a great criminal defense attorney is a very important task, particularly since it has the potential to change your life dramatically depending on the case you need defended.

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