Best San Bernardino Criminal Lawyers

Finding the Top Criminal Defense Attorneys in San Bernardino

If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with a crime in San Bernardino County, having an experienced local criminal defense attorney advocating for you can be absolutely essential for achieving the most favorable outcome possible. This comprehensive guide covers important considerations in identifying and retaining elite San Bernardino criminal lawyers to fight for you.

Overview of Criminal Law in San Bernardino

San Bernardino prosecutors file charges for a wide range of misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses defined in the California Penal Code [1]. Some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in San Bernardino include:

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

Penalties upon conviction vary based on the offense and can include fines, probation, jail time, or lengthy imprisonment. Engaging an experienced criminal defense lawyer from the outset can be pivotal in contesting charges and working toward the most favorable resolution.

Benefits of Retaining a San Bernardino Criminal Defense Attorney

The key advantages of having a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side include:

  • Expertise on local criminal laws and procedures – Substantial knowledge of San Bernardino courts, prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement.
  • Guidance on legal rights – Ensure your rights are protected at all stages. Prevent rights violations.
  • Defense strategy skills – Assess the prosecution’s case for weaknesses. Gather exculpatory evidence and find witnesses.
  • Negotiation abilities – Work toward plea bargains for reduced or dismissed charges through savvy negotiations.
  • Courtroom advocacy – During hearings and trial, present a strong defense before judges and juries.
  • Sentencing assistance – Argue for minimizing penalties upon conviction by presenting mitigating factors.
  • Objective counsel – With emotions running high when facing charges, lawyers provide clear-headed advice.

Access to Resources

Larger law firms have more resources to dedicate to clients:

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

Finding a Top San Bernardino Criminal Defense Lawyer

Conducting thorough research and vetting is key to identifying and retaining the best criminal defense lawyer for your needs in San Bernardino County. Key credentials to look for include:

Criminal Defense Background

  • Years focused exclusively on criminal defense
  • Handling similar charges to yours
  • Familiarity with San Bernardino prosecutors and judges

Courtroom Skills and Track Record

  • Success getting charges dismissed pre-trial
  • Ability to argue motions, suppress evidence
  • Proven trial record – does the lawyer actually take cases to trial and win?

Legal Expertise

  • Criminal law training, education, specializations
  • Strong knowledge of California criminal code and procedures
  • Litigation experience – does the attorney have great courtroom skills?


  • Solo practitioner vs firm with a team of lawyers
  • Financial ability to hire experts and investigators
  • Access to current legal research tools and databases

Client Reviews

  • Testimonials and reviews from former clients
  • Criminal defense lawyer ratings on directories
  • Overall reputation in the San Bernardino legal community

Top credentials in all areas indicate a premier criminal defense firm.

How to Find the Best San Bernardino Criminal Lawyers

Use these approaches to locate qualified criminal defense lawyer candidates:

  • County Bar Association directory – San Bernardino County Bar Association lets you search by practice area.
  • Legal advice directories – Respected sites like Avvo and list lawyer profiles, ratings, and reviews.
  • Individual law firm websites – Browse attorney bios, case results, client testimonials.
  • Referrals from local professionals – Ask for recommendations from any advisers or contacts in San Bernardino.
  • Courtroom observations – Watch various lawyers in action during hearings and trials.
  • Consultations – Interview multiple lawyers in person before deciding on who to hire.

Vetting multiple candidates thoroughly aids in determining the ideal legal representative.

Questions to Ask During a Criminal Defense Consultation

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

  • Number of years focused exclusively on criminal defense
  • Experience with specific charges you face
  • Typical client case load and attention given
  • Familiarity with San Bernardino prosecutors, judges, procedures
  • Estimated legal fees through trial
  • Case strategies and defense options in your situation
  • Resources available – team of lawyers, investigators, etc.
  • If they have taken many cases like yours to trial previously

Detailed consultations provide critical insights before retaining an attorney.

10 Steps to Hiring a San Bernardino Criminal Defense Attorney

Follow these key steps when retaining a criminal defense lawyer in San Bernardino County:

  1. Act Quickly After Arrest or Charges

    Contact lawyers ASAP after arrest or filing of charges to preserve rights. Do not delay.

  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 of success, 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 San Bernardino Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer involves significant costs, which can vary based on:

  • Reputation and experience of the lawyer
  • Complexity and seriousness of criminal charges
  • Amount of 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 representation. More common for minor misdemeanors.
  • Retainer – Upfront lump sum payment that is supplemented by additional hourly fees as needed.
  • Payment plans – Lawyers allow legal fees to be paid over time in installments.

Be sure you understand precise fee expectations before signing an agreement.


Successfully navigating the San Bernardino criminal justice system and working toward the most favorable outcome requires having an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer fighting for you every step of the way. Do diligent research and take time interviewing multiple top candidates before choosing who to entrust with your defense. Vet qualifications thoroughly. The right criminal attorney can make all the difference in how your case progresses and concludes. With an exceptional advocate by your side, you can pursue the most positive resolution achievable.


[1] California Penal Code.