1. What percentage of his practice involves criminal defense and how long has he or she practiced criminal defense? Of course the longer the time, the more training and experience they will have. Fifteen years or more gives you a good probability that they will have expert knowledge to use in getting you the best outcome for your case. This expert knowledge not only relates to knowing the laws, but also a working knowledge of the criminal process, how best to negotiate or deal with the government and Judges.
2. How many trials have he or she handled? Obviously you want someone who has tried a lot of cases, ideally 100 or more. An attorney with that level of experience is prepared for such factors as: trial preparation, investigation, motion practice, jury selection, cross-examination, closing arguments, appellate rights preservation, negotiating reduced sentences and any number of critical elements in a criminal case. Most importantly you want a lawyer with experience to handle for what surprises that invariably occur at trial. A good trial attorney is always prepared, which also means being prepared for the unexpected and the ability to handle the unexpected. You want someone with experience.
3. Is he or she a Certified Criminal Attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocacy? Has he or she been recognized by his or her peers as committing themselves to excellence in representing their clients? This is a designation few attorneys have. It means the attorney has a minimum 45 days of jury trials along with many other rigorous requirements including extensive continuing legal education in the criminal defense area of practice.
4. Will he or she explain to you what is occurring on your case on a regular basis and return your phone calls?
5. Will he or she give you a flat fee price, or charge an hourly rate which can go on forever?
6. How did you find this lawyer? Was he or she just referred to you by a bondsmen or a friend, which may not understand what you need in your situation. Was the referral made because someone has relationship with that attorney as opposed to being based on the attorney’s skill and experience in the area of criminal defense? Just because the person who referred you to a lawyer likes that lawyer is not enough of a reason to trust that lawyer with your, or a loved one’s, freedom.