Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Not long ago, I posted the following response on Avvo to an inquiry about how an “asker” might choose the “best lawyer” to assist him/her with securing a finding of factual innocence with respect to criminal charges.  I thought the response might be helpful as a general matter to those facing criminal charges.

Who the best attorney for you will be depends upon your judgment and rapport with the lawyer himself/herself. The attorney who already responded to you is correct – what you seek is not an easy thing to accomplish. Winning on a petition like the one that you will need to file necessitates that the lawyer not only be competent, but also a good writer. 

Look for someone who is highly rated (you can check ratings here on Avvo and on other websites like Martindale Hubbell. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to fake your way to a high peer rating. That said, remember that while ratings are helpful, there are plenty of good lawyers who don’t have them. You can also look for State Bar certified specialists in criminal law. That information is available about each California lawyer via the bar’s website, or you can try to find certified specialists by Google. Again, not all of the best lawyers take the time and dedicate the energy to become certified specialists.

Bottom line: the best lawyer is the lawyer who you like and trust the most. You should base your trust on experience, reputation, specialization, and past results for clients. A lot of information is out there, but some you can only get from a meeting with the lawyer who you are evaluating. Since most lawyers give free consultations, talk to at least three (3) before hiring someone. At least that way you will have some basis for comparison among people you view as qualified. 

Now the bad news – when you hire a lawyer, you typically get what you pay for. Be careful of lawyers promising the world for what seem like low fees. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.