07 Oct 23

How to Check a Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Background and Credentials

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Last Updated on: 28th October 2023, 09:57 pm

How to Check a Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Background and Credentials

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in how your case turns out. You want someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and who will fight aggressively on your behalf. But how do you know if a lawyer truly has the background and credentials they claim? Here’s some tips on how to do your due diligence before hiring a criminal defense attorney.

Ask Around for Referrals

Word of mouth can be hugely valuable in finding a good lawyer. Talk to family, friends, and colleagues who’ve used a criminal defense attorney before. Find out if they were satisified with the representation and if they’d recommend that lawyer. You can also check with your state bar association’s lawyer referral service – they may provide referrals to attorneys who specialize in criminal defense and who are in good standing.

Verify Licenses and Certifications

Any lawyer practicing criminal defense law needs to be licensed by the state bar association where they work. Look up the attorney on your state bar’s website to confirm their license is current and they’ve had no disciplinary issues. You can also check lawyer directories like Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo which rate attorneys. Make sure any lawyer you consider has certifications like board certification in criminal trial advocacy.

Ask About Their Background

Sit down with any potential lawyer and ask detailed questions about their experience:

  • How long have they practiced criminal defense law?
  • What types of cases have they handled (DUI, theft, assault, etc)?
  • How many jury trials have they done?
  • What are some case results they’ve gotten for past clients?

Avoid any attorney who seems to lack significant experience in criminal defense work. Look for someone who has years under their belt and many trials completed with successful verdicts.

Research Their Education

A reputable lawyer should have a law degree from an accredited university. Ask where the attorney went to law school and verify it. Lawyers who attended top law schools often tout that in their marketing. Also ask if they pursued higher education like a masters degree in criminal law or trial advocacy. These advanced credentials demonstrate deeper knowledge.


Look Into Their Reputation

The legal community in your area likely knows which criminal defense lawyers have the best skills and reputation. Talk to other criminal attorneys or legal professionals and get their take on any lawyer you may hire. Also, check online reviews from past clients – are they overwhelmingly positive? Any serious complaints could be red flags.

Request References

Ask any potential attorney for a list of references such as past clients or other attorneys who can vouch for their abilities and professionalism. Reach out to their references personally to ask how they felt about the representation they received. Also, ask if the lawyer adhered to ethical and professional standards at all times.

Compare Fee Structures

The cost of your defense will vary among different attorneys. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in their fees and what could incur additional costs. Get fee quotes from multiple lawyers before deciding – a very high or very low quote could signal something amiss.

Trust Your Instincts

Remember, you’ll be working closely with your lawyer throughout the case so make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with. If an attorney seems too overconfident, unethical or bills themselves as a “miracle worker,” cross them off your list. Go with someone who is realistic, experienced and makes you feel confident they’ll represent you zealously.

Finding the right criminal defense lawyer takes time and diligence. But vetting an attorney thoroughly on the front end can pay off with better legal guidance and more favorable case outcomes in the long run. Don’t rush this important decision – weigh all the factors carefully as you select your legal advocate.