How to Choose the Best Attorney for Your New York Criminal Case

How to Choose the Best Attorney for Your New York Criminal Case

Dealing with a criminal charge in New York can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time. Finding the right attorney to handle your case is crucial for getting the best possible outcome. This guide covers key factors to consider when selecting an attorney for your New York criminal case.

Define Your Needs

The first step is determining what exactly you need in an attorney. Consider the following:

  • Type of Charges – If you are facing felony charges like robbery or assault, you need someone highly experienced with handling serious cases. For misdemeanor charges like shoplifting or minor drug possession, you may opt for an attorney with lower fees.
  • Trial Experience – If your case may go to trial, prioritize attorneys with extensive litigation and courtroom experience. Be sure they have a proven trial record, not just experience negotiating plea deals.
  • Specialization – Attorneys may specialize in certain areas of criminal law, like DUI/DWI cases, white collar crimes, or domestic violence. Match specialties with your charges.
  • Budget – Rates in New York City may be $500+ per hour. Carefully weigh cost against experience – the cheapest option may not be the best. Public defenders are free but typically overloaded.

Knowing your exact needs helps narrow your attorney search.

Research Candidate Attorneys

Cast a wide net when researching criminal defense attorneys in New York. Sources to find candidates include:

  • Referrals – Speak to friends, family and colleagues who had positive legal experiences. Referrals can lead you to trustworthy attorneys.
  • New York State Bar Association – Includes attorney profiles statewide across various specialties and locations.
  • Avvo – Features user reviews and disciplinary records. Helps identify top local criminal lawyers.
  • – Offers attorney listings searchable by location and legal focus area.
  • Best Attorneys of America – Showcases attorney ratings, achievement records and area of expertise.

Compile a list of 3-5 candidate attorneys from these resources based on criteria important to your case.

Vet Short List Candidates

Once you have a shortlist, vet each attorney thoroughly by:

  • Verifying credentials – Double check licenses, education, certifications and staff size on websites like Avvo and NYSBA.
  • Reviewing case records – Search online for news articles and case records showcasing their defense capabilities.
  • Reading reviews – Check for client testimonials and reviews on Google, Facebook, Avvo and other platforms. These offer insight on responsiveness, legal knowledge, rates and more.
  • Comparing experience – Specifically review experience dealing with your charges, courts and prosecution. An attorney who specializes in cases just like yours may be best equipped to mount the strongest defense.

Thorough vetting ensures you select a high quality attorney matched to your criminal matter.

Interview Attorneys

Once you vet your shortlist, set up initial consultations. Most attorneys offer free first meetings. This lets you meet them, ask questions and gauge compatibility. Key discussion areas include:

Case Strategy

  • How would they defend against your specific charges and mitigate penalties? Do they take an aggressive or conservative approach?
  • What plea bargain outcomes could you realistically expect? Understand likelihood of avoiding jail time.
  • Would your case actually go to trial? What’s their trial record in similar cases?

Experience and Resources

  • Confirm years handling your charges along with win/loss rates. Ask for examples of positive case outcomes.
  • Who exactly would be working on your case? Will a senior partner or more junior attorney handle most aspects?
  • Does the firm have adequate financial resources and staff to fully commit to your defense?

Communication Style

  • Do they clearly explain legal concepts and set expectations? Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
  • Does their style work for you? Find someone who makes you feel supported.
  • How responsive are they? Will you get timely case updates as major developments occur?

Use the initial meeting to directly ask anything important to you in choosing the right criminal attorney. Don’t feel rushed – weighing options carefully leads to better legal outcomes.

Compare Costs

The final step is comparing attorney costs and fee structures. Every attorney calculates fees differently, so get clear rates in writing. Typical fee structures include:

  • Hourly – Most common structure bills by hours worked, often in 6 minute increments. Rates vary from $100-$1500+ per hour depending on experience.
  • Flat – Single fixed cost for defined services like reviewing police reports, making court appearances etc.
  • Retainer – Pay a lump sum upfront to cover estimated hours. May need to provide additional payments as hours accrue.
  • Contingency – Attorney only paid if case succeeds. Rare in criminal law.
  • Pro Bono – Free legal services for those unable to pay. Limited availability.

Be sure to understand exactly what services are covered and ask about additional costs like hiring expert witnesses or investigators. Get fee specifics in a signed engagement letter.

Compare costs against attorney experience, resources and track record handling cases like yours. This helps ensure you get sufficient legal defense capabilities while staying within your budget.

Choose Your Attorney

After thoroughly researching options, vetting candidates and directly interviewing attorneys, you will be in a good position to make an informed hiring choice.

Key factors to finalize your decision include:

  • Case strategy aligning with your goals
  • Confidence in their experience with your charges
  • Communication style providing needed support
  • Fees fitting your budget

An attorney well matched to your case and personal needs will provide you the best chances of a positive legal outcome. With charges filed and court dates approaching, be sure to secure legal representation promptly.


For further guidance on finding the right attorney, check out the following articles:

Securing experienced legal representation tailored to your criminal case can relieve stress and tilt the odds in your favor.