Best Buckeye Criminal Lawyers

Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Columbus, Ohio

Looking for a top-notch criminal defense lawyer in Columbus or Franklin County, Ohio? You’ve come to the right place. As the capital and largest city in Ohio, Columbus has no shortage of criminal defense attorneys to choose from. But not all lawyers are created equal. When your freedom, livelihood, and reputation are on the line, you need an aggressive and experienced advocate who will fight tirelessly on your behalf. So how do you find the cream of the crop? Here are some tips for identifying the best criminal defense lawyers in Columbus.

Focus on Relevant Experience

The first thing to look for is a lawyer who specializes in criminal defense and has extensive experience representing clients facing charges similar to yours in Columbus. Don’t go with a jack-of-all-trades lawyer who dabbles in divorce, personal injury, and the occasional DUI. You want someone laser-focused on criminal defense day in and day out. Ideally, you want a lawyer who has spent years defending clients against the specific charges you’re up against. For example, if you’re facing domestic violence charges, you need a lawyer with ample experience defending domestic violence cases. If you’re charged with drunk driving, look for a DUI specialist.

Seek Out Former Prosecutors

One great source of seasoned criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors. After years of working on the other side, ex-prosecutors have unparalleled insight into the mindset of prosecutors and the inner workings of the criminal justice system. Many set up shop as criminal defense lawyers after prosecuting for the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office or the City Attorney’s Office. Their expertise and connections can give you a strategic advantage.

Check Credentials

Any lawyer can say they handle criminal cases. But you want someone who is board certified as a specialist in criminal trial advocacy. This means they have taken advanced legal education courses and demonstrated substantial experience in criminal litigation. Also verify they are licensed and in good standing with the Ohio bar association. Use the association’s online directory to look up a lawyer’s background and disciplinary history. Avoid anyone who has been suspended or disbarred.

Meet for a Free Consultation

Schedule a free initial consultation with lawyers on your short list. This gives you a chance to meet them, explain your situation, and get a feel for their communication style. Pay attention to how they listen and whether they ask thoughtful questions. You want a lawyer who is engaged and truly cares about your case. A face-to-face meeting can also help you gauge the lawyer’s experience. Ask pointed questions about their specific expertise and track record with cases like yours. Beware if they dodge questions or seem out of their depth.

Understand the Fee Structure

During the consultation, be sure to inquire about the lawyer’s fee structure. Most criminal defense attorneys bill by the hour. Rates for experienced lawyers generally range from $200 to $500 per hour. Also ask if they charge flat fees for certain services like going to trial or filing motions. Get fee estimates in writing so there are no surprises down the road. If the lawyer’s fees are beyond your budget, don’t despair. Ask if they offer payment plans or know of any low-cost legal aid resources that may be able to help.

Check Online Reviews

One of the best ways to vet criminal defense lawyers these days is to check online reviews from past clients. Sites like Avvo allow clients to rate lawyers and write detailed reviews about their experiences. Look for lawyers who have a high overall rating (8.0+ on a 10 point scale) and numerous positive reviews praising their knowledge, communication skills, and case results. Beware of lawyers with terrible reviews mentioning unprofessional conduct or lack of attention to their case.

Trust Your Gut

Last but not least, listen to your intuition. You need a lawyer you can trust and feel comfortable confiding in. If a lawyer seems dismissive, uninterested, or rubs you the wrong way during your consultation, cross them off your list. The stakes are too high to settle on a lawyer you have doubts about. Keep looking until you find someone who earns your confidence and makes you feel like you’ve got a true partner in your corner.

Top Criminal Defense Firms in Columbus

Now that you know what to look for in identifying and vetting criminal defense lawyers, here are some of the top-rated criminal litigation firms and attorneys in Columbus:

Gerald G. Latanich, LLC

With over 25 years of criminal defense experience under his belt, Gerald G. Latanich is widely regarded as one of the best criminal lawyers in Columbus. His boutique firm specializes in defending clients against serious felony charges like murder, violent assaults, white collar crimes, sex offenses, and drug trafficking. Latanich is a former assistant county prosecutor known for his aggressive courtroom style and mastery of trial advocacy. Past clients rave about his tireless work ethic, straight talk, and ability to secure not guilty verdicts in high-stakes cases.

Bradley P. Koffel, Esq.

Bradley P. Koffel enjoys a sterling reputation as a tough and talented criminal defense lawyer with over two decades of experience. Based in Columbus, he defends clients against all types of criminal charges including DUI, theft, drug crimes, juvenile offenses, and violent felonies across Ohio. Koffel is a frequent legal commentator and serves on the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He prides himself on providing relentless advocacy while treating clients with respect and compassion.

The Law Office of Thomas Taneff

Led by principal attorney Thomas W. Taneff, this Columbus firm focuses on defending clients facing DUI and other OVI drunk driving charges. Taneff is a certified field sobriety instructor with specialized expertise in challenging breathalyzer test results. The firm offers flat-fee pricing and payment plans which makes quality legal representation affordable for DUI defendants. Known for his calm demeanor and stellar communication skills, Taneff has a track record of achieving not guilty verdicts and charge reductions for clients.

Tyack, Blackmore & Liston Co., LPA

Founded in 1963, Tyack, Blackmore & Liston is one of the most established and respected criminal defense firms in Columbus. Their team of top-tier criminal trial lawyers has centuries of combined experience defending the accused in Central Ohio. The firm takes on high-stakes cases involving murder, violent crimes, white collar offenses, and sex crimes. They are known for thoroughly investigating cases, aggressively challenging prosecution evidence, and fighting relentlessly for the best possible outcome at trial.

Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter

With nearly 150 attorneys, Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter is one of the largest law firms in Columbus. Their white collar criminal defense group consists of former prosecutors experienced in defending corporations and individuals facing complex fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and regulatory compliance charges. Clients appreciate the firm’s sophisticated understanding of state and federal criminal law. Kegler Brown’s team-based approach brings substantial resources to bear in investigating allegations and achieving pre-trial resolutions when possible.


Being arrested and charged with a crime in Columbus can be a terrifying experience. The consequences of a conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. That’s why selecting the right criminal defense lawyer is such a crucial decision. Focus your search on attorneys with extensive experience fighting cases like yours in Columbus courtrooms. Vet them thoroughly and meet in person before deciding who to entrust with your defense. If you take the time to find the best possible lawyer, you can maximize your chances of the best possible outcome. With your freedom on the line, it’s worth the effort to get it right.