Right now, in the USA, close to 2 million people are incarcerated in various prisons, jails, and other holding facilities. Of course, this number doesn’t account for the enormous number of yearly arrests that don’t result in long-term jail time.

If you’ve been charged with a felony, you’re likely asking, “How to find a criminal defense attorney?” Even if you’re unsure whether you’ll head to court, you need criminal defense to ensure your rights are upheld. But, how do you know if a lawyer will do a good job representing you—especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on an influential attorney?

Below, we provide you with a checklist of sorts to help you decide whether the attorney you’re interviewing can actually help you.

What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

In the simplest terms, a defense attorney represents a person or, in some cases, a company that the police have accused of criminal actions.

The attorney could be employed by the government; in this case, they’re called public defenders. They can also work as a criminal defense lawyer for a private law firm. Public defenders are typically cheaper to hire than independent lawyers.

Whether the criminal defense attorney is a state employee or linked to a private firm, what they do is the same:

  • Research their client, the case, and the law
  • Case preparation
  • Visit their clients and witnesses
  • Represent their clients at trial

They do not file charges on someone or consult clients on criminal law broadly.

When Do You Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Any person accused of a crime is granted the right to legal representation under the sixth amendment of the United States Constitution. And this right can be enacted right at the time of the arrest.

Hiring a lawyer well-versed in criminal law is essential because you need to understand the full implications of what you’re being charged with.

Some instances where a criminal attorney can help you include:

  • Arraignment
  • Pre-Trial
  • At Trial
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal

Often, you need to find a criminal defense attorney to represent you quickly. This can be stressful, but don’t be tempted to work with the first attorney offered to you. Instead, take your time to find a trustworthy criminal lawyer with a good track record.

Qualities to Look for In a Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the most important—and often overlooked—traits you want to see in a is confidentiality. Especially in criminal cases, you need to know your lawyer isn’t going to compromise your reputation. However, you need to review several other essential attorney characteristics before selecting your representation.

1. They Communicate Well

Much of a lawyer’s job involves expert communication skills. They need to be able to talk with their client and witnesses, deal with investigators, negotiate settlements, and convince a judge or jury to support a favorable outcome for their clients.

They also need to be able to explain to you, their client, the possible ramifications of your charges and the options available to you in a language you can understand. After all, most of us aren’t familiar with legal jargon.

best criminal defense lawyers

2. They’re Trustworthy

Your criminal attorney should empathize with your case and genuinely want to help you get the best outcome possible related to your charges. They should be open and honest with you regarding the severity of your case, keep you up to date on developments, and present accurate (rather than false) information in court.

If you suspect your lawyer is doing any of these things, you’re within your rights to request or hire a different lawyer.

3. They’re Organized

An expert criminal defense attorney (and their assisting colleagues) must keep on top of a lot of paperwork. They need to demonstrate equally specialist organizational skills.

They should be prompt to client meetings, interviews, and appointments. They know all the filing deadlines related to your case and ensure documents are completed and submitted on time. They are intimately aware of the details you’ve relayed to them about your case and can bring up facts and figures as required.

4. They’re Methodical and Analytical

Your attorney should be able to review all the case information quickly and thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding evidence that positively impacts your case.

In negotiations or in the courtroom, they need to be able to think on their feet to provide quick-fire rebuttals against the police or prosecutor’s accusations. Their closing arguments should be as accurate and legally sound as they are engaging or powerful.

5. They Don’t Give Up Easily

Your lawyer should demonstrate dedication to getting you the best result possible. This means they must be persistent in dealing with evidence and witnesses, prepared to work long hours when necessary, and determined to win your case no matter what the defense presents.

This is not to be confused with being aggressive. A good lawyer errs on assertiveness over aggressiveness; they know compromise and mutual agreement win out over fighting.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

6. They Have the Necessary Experience

Of course, if you’re facing criminal charges, you want a lawyer with a lot of criminal law experience representing you. And ideally, you want an attorney with experience with the type of charges you’re facing.

When interviewing attorneys, ask for their resumes, records of successful court or case wins, and client testimonials. Check out their firm’s ratings or reviews online.

How to Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Explained

Are you struggling with the answer to the question, “How to find a criminal defense attorney?” As you can see, finding the right lawyer to defend you in court goes well beyond the school they attended or how famous they are. You need someone who sympathizes with your situation and is assertive enough to challenge the defense.

For more helpful advice on legal matters, browse the other articles on our blog. And if you have other tips or tricks for finding an expert lawyer, leave a comment below!

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