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How To Choose a Good Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you will need a good criminal defense attorney. If you don’t know any and are searching for the first time, you’ll find a seemingly endless list of attorneys in any directory you review. Of course, any attorney who advertises his/her services will claim to be the best, or the most aggressive, or the most experienced.

To help you cut through that noise, here are some suggestions on how to narrow the list and make a good and informed decision:

Responsiveness. You want your phone calls returned timely. You’ve been charged with a crime, and you're nervous. Having to wait for that return phone call will add to your anxiety at a time when you need help. As you can expect, many clients want to hire a well-experienced criminal defense attorney, so the attorney should be very busy. However, a well-experienced criminal defense attorney should have the ability to organize his/her cases perfectly. Of course, you should not expect an attorney to pick up your call whenever you just want to speak with him/her without an appointment, but you can certainly expect to speak with his/her assistant(s) first and talk with the attorney accordingly later. You do not want your calls always go straight to voicemail with no timely response.

Expertise. You want an attorney who specializes in criminal defense, and by that we mean limits his or her practice to criminal defense work. You wouldn’t turn to a general medical practitioner for open-heart surgery, and you don’t want to turn to a real estate attorney for a criminal court case. Many law firms work in other fields of law, and that’s okay. You just want the lawyer representing you to be that firm’s criminal defense specialist.

Experience. This is a two-fold criterion. Of course, you want an attorney well-experienced in criminal trial work (both single judge and jury trials). But, you also will want an attorney experienced in the court where your trial will be held, someone the judges and prosecutors in that court know.

Reputation. Ask for referrals, and seek out reputable sources for information about the attorney. Also, find out where he or she went to law school, how long he or she has been practicing law, and how many criminal trials he or she has handled.

Knowledge. You will want your attorney to know the law involved in your case off the top of their head. Being told by an attorney that they will have to look into the law and get back to you is not going to instill a lot of confidence. If the criminal defense is their field, they should know.

Fees. You also want to know going in what the lawyer’s fee structure is and how payment will be expected. There should be no surprises awaiting you. Many attorneys insist on fee agreements at the outset of the case. Don’t be shocked when you see the numbers - lawyers aren’t cheap, but at least you’ll know what will be expected of you going forward.

Interview. Spend time interviewing a lawyer. Ask that any hype and braggadocio be skipped, and get to the “straight talk.” You want your attorney to show confidence, of course, but also to demonstrate good communication skills, the ability to commit to using best efforts on your behalf, good negotiation skills, and have a clear and firm understanding of and commitment to confidentiality. You want to be able to have faith and confidence in the services you will receive. You also want to find an attorney who really cares about your case.

Attorneys at Blumsack & Canzano are criminal defense attorneys with decades of experience representing criminal defendants in state and federal courts. We can help you check off all of those boxes. Let us help you through the criminal justice system with a zealous defense to protect your civil and constitutional rights.



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