5 Things To Look For In A Criminal Defense Attorney

When you’re hiring a criminal defense attorney, you may think it’s best to just hire the most expensive option.

The truth is, this can be horrible or great advice.

There’s no playbook to picking the best attorney for your specific case. However, there are certain traits to look for in a criminal defense attorney.

Remember, there can be considerable repercussions for being convicted for a crime, so you’ll want to do your due diligence when picking a lawyer.

Most attorneys will offer a free consultation to go over your case, see if you’re the right fit for them, and if so, try to win your business.

This is also an opportunity for you to assess the skills of the attorney and the other factors we’ll discuss later in this article.


Many people don’t know that lawyers are usually only licensed to practice law in one state.

Now that you understand this, the best place to start looking for an attorney is through word-of-mouth. If you have any friends who are lawyers, ask them for a recommendation since attorneys know attorneys.

Experience With The Crimes Charged

Now that you’ve found a list of criminal defense attorneys, you’ll want to look for someone who specializes in a specific area of criminal defense. Many defense attorneys will specialize in one area like violent crimes, DUI,, theft, or drug charges. An attorney who has experience handling cases like yours will know the best strategy to use in court. This is not something you want the roll the dice with so try your best to find a specialist.

Has A Good Reputation

Reputation is more than being good or bad. Lawyers can carry many different reputations like taking on difficult cases, taking on smaller cases, taking on high-profile cases, etc.

There are two ways to understand an attorney’s reputation:

  1. Research their reviews and testimonials online. Read the good and bad reviews if there are any. This will tell you what kind of attorney they are and if they’ll be able to go to bat for you.
  2. If you sit down with an attorney for a consultation, ask to speak to some of their past clients. What you read online may be different than what an actual client has to say.


Follow these steps and you should be able to avoid any attorneys who have a reputation of burning clients and under-delivering.

Charismatic & Likeable

No matter how much of a hard-hitter your attorney is, it’s important that you get along with them as well. You’ll be partners in every decision made on your behalf. Some attorneys will only see you as a case file and this can have negative results on your case.

Ask yourself these questions about your prospective attorney:

  • “Does this attorney seem like someone I’d have a conversation with?”
  • “Does this attorney genuinely care about me and my case?”
  • “Can I talk openly and honestly with this attorney?”
  • “Does the attorney explain things in a way I can understand?”
  • “Will this attorney earn the trust of a jury, judge, or prosecutor?”

Many attorneys are extremely skilled, but lack the social element. Courtroom persuasion is an important piece of winning your case.

Responsive, Responsible, & Caring

You’ll be doing a lot of communicating during and before the trial. The more updates your attorney can give you to ease your nerves and update you, the better. You may not have 24/7 access to your attorney, but they should be able to communicate with you on a daily or weekly basis.

Final Thoughts

Remember to do your due diligence, ask questions like the ones above and do your best to find an attorney who gives you the best chance to win your case.

Good luck!

Attorney Shawn James Haff

About the author

Editorial Staff

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