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Best Hawaii Criminal Lawyers

Hiring the Top Criminal Defense Attorneys in Hawaii

If you or someone you care about has been arrested or charged with a crime in Hawaii, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer fighting for you can be absolutely essential for achieving the most favorable outcome possible. This comprehensive guide covers important factors in identifying and retaining elite Hawaii criminal attorneys to advocate on your behalf.

Overview of Hawaii Criminal Law

Hawaii statutes cover a wide range of misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses [1]. Some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in Hawaii include:

  • Drug crimes – Possession, trafficking, distribution
  • DUI and drunk driving
  • Theft/larceny
  • Burglary
  • Assault and battery
  • Domestic violence
  • Weapons charges
  • Sex offenses – Rape, solicitation
  • White collar crimes – Fraud, forgery, embezzlement
  • Homicide – Murder, manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter

Penalties upon conviction can include fines, probation, imprisonment, or even the death penalty depending on the severity of the crime. Having an elite Hawaii criminal defense lawyer to advocate for you can be pivotal in fighting charges.

Benefits of Hiring a Hawaii Criminal Defense Attorney

The key advantages of retaining legal counsel when facing criminal prosecution include:

  • Expertise on Hawaii criminal law – Substantial knowledge of HI statutes, case law, procedures, law enforcement methods. Can identify defenses.
  • Guidance on legal rights – Advise you on your rights throughout the investigative and trial process. Prevent rights violations.
  • Defense strategy skills – Develop an effective theory of defense by exploiting flaws in the prosecution’s case. Ready witnesses, gather evidence.
  • Negotiation abilities – Negotiate with prosecutors for reduced or dismissed charges through plea bargaining.
  • Courtroom presentation skills – During evidentiary hearings and trial, argue before judges and juries.
  • Sentencing assistance – Fight to minimize penalties upon conviction by presenting mitigating factors.
  • Objective counsel – With high emotions when facing charges, lawyers provide clear-headed guidance focused on legal scenarios.

Resource Advantages

Larger law firms have more resources dedicated to clients:

  • Funds to hire investigators, expert witnesses
  • Whole teams of lawyers, paralegals, assistants
  • Access to current legal research tools

Finding a Top Hawaii Criminal Defense Attorney

Conducting diligent research and vetting is key when identifying and retaining the best criminal defense lawyer for your needs in Hawaii. Key credentials to look for include:

Focused Criminal Defense Experience

  • Years handling criminal cases exclusively
  • Specific experience with your charges
  • Familiarity with Hawaii prosecutors and judges

Courtroom Skills and Record

  • Success getting charges dismissed pre-trial
  • Ability to argue motions, suppress evidence
  • Proven track record taking cases to trial and winning

Legal Background

  • Criminal law expertise, training, education
  • Excellent knowledge of Hawaii criminal code and procedures
  • Strong overall litigation skills


  • Solo practitioner vs. law firm with a team of lawyers
  • Funds to hire experts, investigators as needed
  • Access to current legal research tools and databases

Client Reviews

  • Testimonials and reviews from former clients
  • Lawyer ratings on legal directories
  • Overall reputation in the Hawaii legal community

Top ratings across all categories indicates a premier criminal defense firm.

How to Find the Best Hawaii Criminal Attorneys

Use these approaches to locate qualified criminal lawyer candidates:

  • State Bar Association directory – Hawaii State Bar Association lets you search by practice area.
  • Legal advice directories – Respected sites like Avvo and Lawyers.com list detailed lawyer profiles, ratings, and reviews.
  • Individual law firm websites – Browse attorney biographies, case results, client testimonials.
  • Referrals from professionals – Ask business associates, family or friends for referrals.
  • Courtroom observations – Watch various lawyers in action during hearings and trials.
  • Consultations – Interview multiple lawyers in person before deciding who to hire.

Thoroughly vetting candidates will aid in determining the best advocate.

Questions to Ask During an Initial Criminal Defense Consultation

To choose the right criminal defense lawyer, use initial consultations to probe:

  • Their years of experience focused exclusively on criminal defense
  • Experience with your exact charges
  • Typical client case load and attention given
  • Familiarity with Hawaii prosecutors, judges, procedures
  • Estimated legal fees through trial
  • Case strategies and defense options in your situation
  • Access to resources – team of lawyers, investigators, etc.
  • Previous cases taken to trial and success rate

In-depth consultations provide critical insights before retaining counsel.

10 Steps to Hiring a Hawaii Criminal Defense Lawyer

Follow these key steps when retaining criminal defense counsel in Hawaii:

  1. Act Quickly After Arrest or Charges

    Contact lawyers ASAP after arrest or filing of charges to preserve rights.

  2. Research Lawyers Handling Your Charges

    Search online for lawyers with specific experience handling your charges. Look for relevant expertise.

  3. Review Credentials, Experience and Case Results

    Verify track record, years of experience, specific qualifications.

  4. Schedule In-Person Consultations

    Meet with lawyers to discuss your case details and evaluate skills.

  5. Ask Detailed Questions

    Probe credentials, case strategy, fees, negotiation tactics, resources, trial record.

  6. Compare Multiple Options

    Weigh factors like experience, fees, communication style, expertise.

  7. Make a Final Decision

    Choose the attorney you feel will fight hardest in representing you.

  8. Formalize Engagement

    Sign a detailed legal services agreement.

  9. Provide Case Details

    Brief lawyer on all relevant facts and provide any documents.

  10. Stay Organized

    Keep copies of all information given to your lawyer.

Following these steps will aid in engaging the best legal representation.

Average Costs of a Hawaii Criminal Defense Attorney

The costs of a private criminal defense lawyer can vary substantially based on factors such as:

  • Reputation and experience of the lawyer
  • Complexity and severity of criminal charges
  • Time required for defense preparation
  • Whether the case goes to trial versus a plea deal

Common billing arrangements include:

  • Hourly – Rates from $200 to $500+ per hour, billed periodically as work is performed.
  • Flat fee – Preset, fixed price for full case representation. More common for minor misdemeanors.
  • Retainer – Upfront lump sum payment that is supplemented by additional hourly fees as required.
  • Payment plans – Lawyers allow legal fees to be paid over time in installments.

Be sure you understand precise fee expectations before entering into any agreement.


Facing criminal prosecution in Hawaii can be an extremely daunting and stressful experience. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer advising you and aggressively fighting the charges can help lead to the most positive outcome achievable. Do diligent research and take time interviewing multiple top attorneys before choosing who to entrust with your defense. Vet all credentials thoroughly. The right criminal lawyer can make a tremendous difference in how your case progresses and concludes. With a skilled legal advocate on your side, you can vigorously pursue justice.


[1] Hawaii Penal Code – Title 37. Hawaii Revised Statutes. https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol14_Ch0701-0853/HRS0703/HRS_0703-.htm

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