Best Rockford Criminal Lawyers

Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Rockford, IL

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Rockford, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can make all the difference. With their knowledge of criminal law and defense strategies, the right lawyer can help ensure your rights are protected, fight the charges, and work toward the best possible outcome. But with so many options to choose from, how do you find the very best criminal defense lawyer in Rockford for your specific situation?

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most experienced and effective criminal defense attorneys currently practicing in the Rockford area. We’ll provide an overview of their background, credentials, and what makes them stand out. Our goal is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision when selecting legal representation for your criminal case.

Looking at Experience and Specializations

One of the first things to look at when researching Rockford criminal defense lawyers is their overall experience level in handling criminal cases. In general, you’ll want to find an attorney who has devoted most or all of their practice to criminal law specifically. The more cases they’ve worked on over the years covering a range of charges and situations, the more insights and strategies they’ll have to draw from for your defense. It’s also helpful to consider what types of criminal charges they have the most experience with. For instance, some may specialize in DUIs or drug crimes specifically. If you’re facing federal charges, look for those who regularly handle federal cases. Their familiarity with the specifics of your type of criminal case can be invaluable.

Attorney Credentials and Associations

You’ll also want to look at the credentials of any criminal defense lawyer you’re considering. This includes:

  • Education – Where did they earn their law degree and did they graduate with honors?
  • Bar admissions – Are they licensed to practice in Illinois and admitted to the relevant federal courts?
  • Associations – Do they belong to professional groups like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers or Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers?

Membership in these associations demonstrates a dedication to staying up-to-date on developments in criminal defense law and strategies.

Client Reviews and Testimonials

One of the best ways to get a feel for a lawyer’s skills and track record is by reading reviews from former clients. Look for consistent themes touching on their legal expertise, communication style, attentiveness to clients, and success at getting charges reduced or dismissed. Google, Facebook, Avvo, and other sites collect client reviews that can give you valuable insight. But keep in mind that every lawyer will have at least a few negative reviews too. Don’t write them off based on limited critiques alone. The overall pattern of reviews is what matters most.

Case Results and Success Stories

As you research potential criminal defense lawyers, look for specifics on how their past cases have turned out. The very best attorneys will highlight case results on their websites showing charges they’ve gotten dismissed, reduced, or tried for “not guilty” verdicts. Many will also list client testimonials detailing positive outcomes. This information shows their experience fighting criminal allegations in real cases much like yours. However, take care not to make final judgements based on marketed content alone. It’s always wise to have consultations with lawyers directly too.

Personal Consultations and Compatibility

Speaking of consultations, it’s always recommended to set up initial meetings with one or more criminal defense lawyers before retaining one. This gives you a chance to ask them questions about your case specifics to gauge their knowledge and approach. It also allows you to get a feel for their communication style and personality. The ideal lawyer will listen attentively to the details of your case, clearly explain your options, and make you feel comfortable placing your trust in them. Don’t underestimate the importance of personal compatibility and communication – they will be by your side throughout the case.

Legal Fees and Billing Practices

The cost of skilled legal representation is certainly something to factor into your decision. Top criminal defense attorneys often charge higher hourly rates and retainers reflecting their experience level and demand. However, don’t let the fees be the only deciding factor – the outcome they can achieve for you is most important. Be sure to understand precisely how any lawyer bills for services so there are no surprises down the road. You’ll want to ask them about retainers, hourly rates, expenses, payment plans, and more.

Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Rockford, IL

Now that we’ve covered how to evaluate criminal defense attorneys generally, let’s look at some of the top-rated and most successful options currently practicing in the Rockford area:

Zachary Townsend

With over 25 years of criminal law experience under his belt, Zachary Townsend is regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the field locally and statewide. He specializes in defending complex felonies and federal crimes, with an impeccable track record of positive case results over the years. Attorney Townsend is a member of the exclusive American College of Trial Lawyers and has received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Christopher A. DeRango

Christopher DeRango is a former Winnebago County Assistant State’s Attorney who now puts his prosecutorial experience to work defending clients facing DUI, traffic offenses, drug crimes, theft, and more. He is known for his meticulous trial preparation and aggressive courtroom advocacy. Attorney DeRango provides compassionate guidance and legal expertise to limit penalties and protect client rights.

Jonathan James

With degrees in psychology and law, attorney Jonathan James takes a holistic approach to criminal defense. He works diligently to understand his clients’ situations and motivations to construct the strongest defense. Attorney James has successfully defended numerous complex state and federal white collar cases involving fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and more. His experience as a public defender also makes him a great choice for representation in a wide range of criminal matters.

Paul Marriett

For over 35 years, attorney Paul Marriett has established himself as a tenacious litigator and respected criminal defense lawyer in the Rockford area. He has extensive experience defending cases involving murder, drug trafficking, sex crimes, DUI, domestic violence, and more. Paul Marriett is known for his relentless commitment to achieving the best possible outcome for his clients. He is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association as well.

Brendan Caver

As a former prosecutor, Brendan Caver brings a balanced perspective when defending clients facing DUI, theft, juvenile crimes, violent felonies, and more. He takes the time to counsel clients and their families throughout the legal process, always seeking alternatives to minimize consequences when possible. Brendan Caver has successfully defended numerous high-profile cases over his career.


Finding the right criminal defense lawyer for your particular situation in Rockford can seem daunting given the many options. By focusing on attorneys with proven experience, strong credentials, positive reviews, demonstrated success with past cases, and a personality that meshes well with yours, you can feel confident you are making the best choice. We hope this overview has helped narrow down the field and provided a starting point to find the lawyer that is the perfect fit for you.