Choosing a criminal defense attorney isn’t like selecting a plumber or trainer. Although you can certainly ask friends and family members for referrals, it’s probable that your loved ones have never needed a criminal attorney for the same reason you’re currently in. Here’s how to find a criminal defense lawyer that will suit your needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Criminal and Civil Lawyer? 

Lawyers handle different types of cases. Family law lawyers deal with divorce, adoptions, wills and other types of cases that affect families. Civil attorneys often deal with business acquisitions and issues of law in corporate settings. Criminal defense attorneys represent people who are accused of crimes. The two types of lawyers deal with very different aspects of the law. A good criminal defense lawyer may have once been a district or city attorney or a public defender. When looking for a lawyer to defend you against criminal charges, look for experience.

What Traits Should You Look For in a Criminal Defense Lawyer? 

Beyond experience in the criminal courts, a criminal defense attorney needs to know the arena. You want a local attorney who knows the local judges, DAs and law enforcement. This type of knowledge can help you know how cases are generally handled. Although the procedure from court to court may not change, judges may bring their own attitudes into court. Some judges are harder on DUI cases or sexual assault. Some DAs offer plea deals but won’t negotiate.

The other important thing in a criminal defense lawyer is experience in the specific charges. Legal issues are complex. If you’re charged with a felony DUI, you want an attorney who knows the laws about DUIs, not someone who specializes in drug offenses.

Can You Talk to Your Attorney? 

Experience and knowledge are important, but the third part of the equation in choosing a good criminal defense lawyer is trust. If you cannot be truthful with the attorney, your lawyer can’t do everything to find the best outcome. You must be able to talk to the lawyer and understand what the lawyer tells you. You should look for a lawyer who is concerned about the long term effects of your situation, not just the current crime. Your lawyer needs to be able to talk to jurors, judges and the prosecutor about your case. The personal touch is something you can’t ignore when choosing a criminal defense lawyer.

Contact a criminal lawyer in San Francisco, CA to discuss your needs.  

Thanks to Hallinan Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and how to find a criminal defense lawyer.