7 Steps to Find The Right Criminal Defense Attorney

So, you need a criminal defense lawyer?

Maybe you slipped up. Perhaps you are innocent.

Regardless of your situation, you need to know the law, or you need to know someone who does.

You need to find the right criminal defense attorney.

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Most people don’t know this but, in many ways, finding the right attorney is like finding the right employee.

It may take a bit of work, but rest assured, taking the extra time to hire the right lawyer can make all the difference.

This go-to guide of hiring an attorney will help you find the right lawyer, best of all, it includes the secret tips no one else will talk about.

Go-to Guide to Finding a Good Criminal Defense Attorney

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When looking for an attorney, the first thing you need to ask yourself is…

What kind of lawyer can you afford?

No budget- The Public Defender

If you are strapped for cash, fortunately there is a solution. Thanks to the decision in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the state is required to offer a public defender to those that can not afford representation.

We all hear the horror stories of working with a public defender. Of course, there is an obvious conflict of interest in being represented by an attorney who is being paid by the same state which is paying the prosecutor. But really, it doesn’t have to be that bad.

If you are strapped for cash, and don’t feel safe representing yourself, a public defender may be the only way to go. But for that information, you will need to read the post on How to Work With a Public Defender.

Low Budget- Hiring an Attorney on a Budget

A good lawyer doesn’t have to be expensive, and if you have no choice but hire an attorney on a budget, you should still use the tips in this guide. But here is an additional tool for finding lawyers on a budget, LawHelp.org.

Any Budget- Find the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have a job, or are able to pay a bit more for the right criminal defense attorney, you will want to hire the best!

But how can you find the best attorney, without wasting your time or money?

These 7 steps will get you started.

7 Steps for Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Step 1: Find a Prospective Attorney

The first step to finding an attorney is simple. Find an attorney that seems like a suitable candidate. This is where many people who are in a rush to find an attorney end things. But you want to hire the right lawyer. You need to go above and beyond.

Step 2: Interview Your Candidate

That’s right. You have to treat hiring an attorney just like hiring any other employee. Conducting an interview with an attorney, or law firm, is a crucial step to hiring the right lawyer.

Conducting an interview with any lawyer you intend to hire can save you a world of headache down the road. So what questions should you be asking a prospective lawyer?

Here are a few questions you should ask a prospective attorney :

  • How long has the attorney been in practice?
  • Does the law firm have a track record of success? If so, can they provide any references?
  • Does the attorney have experience in the type of law that applies to your case?
  • How are the lawyer’s fees structured? Do they have an estimate of the cost?
  • Are there any additional fees, besides their services, that you should be aware of? (Ex. filing fees, court costs, shipping or postage costs)
  • How does the lawyer bill their charges? Are there payment options?
  • Will you work with one attorney, or do will you be working with whatever attorney is available on a given day?
  • Do they have a written agreement of their fees?
  • Will they outsource any work? Will you have to pay these fees separately? What will the rates of the outsourced work be?

Asking these questions during an in person or phone interview is- a solid start to finding the right lawyer to represent you.

Step 3: Interview Multiple Lawyers or Law firms

It’s true, interviewing one lawyer is hard enough. The stress of a pending criminal charge can be bad enough, and it can be tempting to hire the very first lawyer you meet. But, you probably shouldn’t.

Here’s the deal, finding the right lawyer may be a huge stress reliever down the road.  Finding the right lawyer, who can protect you with the law properly, can be a huge help as the proceedings go forward. The more lawyers you take the time to interview, the better equipped you will be to choose the best one.

Additionally, conducting interviews with multiple attorneys will help you get a better grasp and understanding about what you need to be looking for in an attorney.

Step 4: Conduct a background check

Lawyers are people too, and like other folks they may have a criminal history themselves. Even more important, lawyers are also subject to the bar, and may have a history of misconduct. This misconduct may have been reported to their dispensary agency.

Tip 1: You can conduct a background check, on any attorney’s history with their disciplinary agency by visiting the American Bar Association’s Directory of Disciplinary Agencies.

Tip 2: Even better, you can find peer reviews on attorneys at Martindale.com. 

Tip 3: Go above and beyond and consult other lawyers about your candidate’s reputation.  Obviously you will have to take a competing attorney’s claims with a grain of salt, but lawyers typically know the reputation, and competence, of other attorneys in their local area.

Step 5: Secret Tip! Check Social Media

Here is a secret most most people don’t take into consideration. This is an advanced step that can take a bit of time, but may be worth it in the end.

It’s no secret, most attorneys are friends with one another. This can mean that: your prospective lawyer may be friends with the prosecutor. This may not always mean a conflict of interest, but if your attorney is better friends with the prosecutor than you, he may be more apt to agree with the prosecutor than to protect your interests.

If you see that your attorney is friends with the prosecution, or they regularly hang out, you may want to confront your prospective lawyer about this possible conflict of interest.

You can also avoid this type of conflict of interest by hiring a lawyer from out of town. But of course, this will likely raise the cost of your defense.

Additionally, the friendship between your attorney and the prosecutor may not always be a bad thing. But it is something you should consider.

Step 6: Keep Researching

The more you know, and the more informed the decisions you make are, the better off you will be. Here is some interesting content to help you learn more…

Check out these pro tips on how to avoid a bad lawyer.

Step 7: Research the law

Yes, your lawyer is the legal professional. They should be knowledgeable at law. But, like everyone else, attorneys are human, and can’t possibly know everything. If you take the time to research the law, you may be able to help your attorney keep your case on the “right side” of the courthouse.  After all, you are likely not your attorney’s only client, and unfortunately, your case may not get all of the attention it deserves. No matter who you hire.

One great tool for learning the law on your own is HowToWinInCourt.com

With the tools offered by Jurisdictionary, you can theoretically represent yourself. But, it is also a great tool to teach you about how the court system works, and how to make it work for you. It is truly a great tool.

Need More Info on How to Hire the Right Attorney?

Check Healing Law’s Legal Library to get started on your hunt for the right lawyer.

Top rated lawyers and attorneys in your area are listed by city in our growing database of the best lawyers and attorneys around.

If you are looking for a Roundup Exposure Lawyer, check out our ultimate guide.

Here are some of our directories:

Best Lawyers in Virginia Beach, VA

Top-rated lawyers in Elizabeth City, NC

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Lawyers in Durham, North Carolina

13 Comments





  1. Thank you for your great tip on how you should conduct interviews with multiple attorneys before hiring one. My cousin just got arrested for drug-related issues and needs a lawyer. I will definitely pass along all of your great tips and information to my cousin so he can find a great criminal attorney.







  2. I liked that you mentioned asking how long has the attorney been in practice is a good way to find the right criminal defense lawyer for your case. My husband’s brother was arrested last night, and we are looking for advice. I will let him know about the benefits of hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help him.

  3. It made sense when you said that interviewing multiple lawyers actually helps us become better equipped to make a good choice about who to hire. My brother-in-law is facing robbery charges and will need to enlist the help of a good criminal attorney. I’ll be sure to pass your tips along to him to help him find a lawyer that’ll handle his case effectively.

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