Top Questions To Ask When Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are faced with a criminal charges, your freedom and livelihood is at stake. Hiring the right criminal defense attorney for your case can mean the difference between having y our criminal charges reduced or dismissed rather than spending time behind bars, paying high fees and fines, attending classes and potentially losing your family and/or your job. Before you hire a criminal defense attorney, you should ask the following questions:

1.  How much experience do you have with charges like mine?

When hiring a criminal defense lawyer, it is important to remember that not all crimes are created equal. If you are charged with a serious felony, you wouldn’t hire an attorney that has only handled trespassing or DUI cases. Defending criminal charges, such as sexual assault, abuse and neglect, or child pornography cases,require the attorney to have specialized knowledge and training. Just because an attorney says he is a criminal defense attorney that doesn’t mean he will be able to handle the specific type of charges you are facing. Make sure the attorney provides you with information that proves he is capable of handling your specific type of case. 

2. What experience do you have taking cases like mine to trial?

If you are charged with a crime, you have to assume that your case will go to trial. Trying a case to a jury is different than trying a criminal case to a judge. Not all Nevada criminal matters get jury trials. 

When hiring a criminal defense lawyer, you should ask whether the attorney has experience taking cases like yours to trial. Find out if they have had jury trial experience and ask about their success rate. 

Regardless of whether the criminal defense lawyer has jury trial experience or not, make sure you hire an attorney who is familiar and confident with the trial process and not afraid to go to trial. Keep in mind that the prosecution can sense the fear of going to trial,which can have a detrimental effect on plea bargaining. Having an attorney who is ready and willing to go to trial can significantly improve the outcome of your case. 

3. How much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to criminal law?

Lots of attorneys say they are criminal defense lawyers, but many only handle a criminal case here and there. In Las Vegas criminal defense, knowing the system, knowing the prosecutors and knowing what to expect from judges matters.Hiring an attorney that has a significant amount of their practice devoted to criminal defense is important. A good rule of thumb is to hire an attorney who devotes at least 50% of his/her practice to criminal defense.

4. Will the attorney you meet with be the one who handled your case?

Continuity of representation is critical to a positive outcome in any criminal matter. It is important that negotiations remain consistent and having the same attorney represent you from beginning to end is key. Many law firms will have you initially talk to an experienced lawyer and then assign your case to a less experienced lawyer. If you are hiring a lawyer because of his or her experience and reputation you will want to make sure that attorney will be the one actually defending you.

5. What is the criminal defense attorney going to charge for legal representation?

People often want to pay as little as possible when hiring somebody to perform a service for them. This may make sense when hiring pest control company or a plumber. But when you are charged with a crime you will want to hire the best lawyer for your case. 

A low fee can mean the lawyer is not experienced. It may also mean that he or she handles a high volume of cases. Often,"volume" attorneys quote minimal fees because they intend to plead out your case without exploring all possible alternatives such as motions or trial.

On the other hand, you shouldn't necessarily hire the lawyer who charges the highest fee. The fee charged doesn't necessarily correlate with the level of service provided by the lawyer. Many times, "high power, high price" attorneys devote the majority of their attention to only their most prominent clients. A criminal defense attorney should treat all their clients as priorities regardless of the fee received.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime or needs a criminal defense attorney, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line formfor more information. Our criminal defense lawyers are led by a former prosecutor who has tried hundreds of cases and handled thousands of criminal matters. We can help.

Comments (8)


Jocelyn McDonald

Jul 10, 2018 10:58 AM PST

My brother recently got a traffic ticket he believes is unjust, so I suggested he hire an attorney to help him get it repealed. Your article had some great tips for choosing a criminal defense attorney, and I liked how you said to make sure the lawyer you meet with specializes in the field you need, and to avoid lawyers that only deal with these kinds of cases occasionally. Thanks for the help; I'll share this with my brother to help him with his traffic ticket.


Penelope Smith

Jun 07, 2018 11:34 PM PST

I liked that you explained that it would be really smart to ask the lawyer if they have experience handles cases like yours. I am glad that you pointed out that crime attornies can deal with anything from sexual assault, abuse, or trespassing. If I was having to go to court over something has terrible as sexual assault I would want a really good lawyer with lots of experience helping me.


Moira Blyhte

Mar 28, 2018 12:04 PM PST

My brother is in need of a criminal defense attorney. I appreciate your advice that we should hire an attorney who devotes at least 50% of his practice to criminal defense. This will be really helpful for us!


Moira Blyhte

Mar 26, 2018 09:29 AM PST

My brother is looking for a defense attorney. I appreciate your advice that we should make sure that they person we meet with is the same person who will be taking our case. This is something that I didn't think of needing to ask, but we'll be sure to remember this!


Callum Palmer

Feb 06, 2018 09:17 PM PST

Experience is always the key thing to look for when choosing a criminal defense attorney and it is great that your article backs that up. However, I also love that you actually broke down the different kinds of experience that are important to look for in a criminal case. After all, if you know that your case is going to court then you'll want an attorney that has experience in the courtroom.


Latoya Anderson

Jan 30, 2018 07:22 PM PST

I like that you talked about the importance of making sure that the criminal defense attorney that you will hire has the ability to provide you a proof that he is capable of handling your specific type of case. My sister-in-law was charged with a felony case. It's highly important for her to hire a criminal defense attorney that can help her prove her innocence on the court, so it's crucial for her to only deal with a criminal defense lawyer that has the experience and capability to handle felony charges. I will make sure to share your blog with her so she can consider all your tips.


Denisse Johansen

Dec 12, 2017 04:27 PM PST

I like that you talked about the importance of choosing a criminal attorney who's familiar and confident with the trial process to make sure that you will be well-presented on the court. My father was accused of a crime he is not guilty of, and we're looking to hire a criminal lawyer that can help my father to face the court in his scheduled trial. It's important for us to make sure that we will only hire a competent lawyer that has an adequate knowledge and skills to represent my father and get a favorable outcome. I will make sure to consider all your tips for choosing the right criminal lawyer. Thanks for the tips!


Sharon Wilson-Smith

Dec 11, 2017 08:51 PM PST

I like that you talked about how you must consider the experience and the success rate of the criminal attorney that you're interested in handling relevant cases to yours in trials to make sure a positive outcome of your case. My father was charged for a DUI case last night, and he is scheduled to face a trial by the end of the week. It's important for him to find an experienced criminal attorney that can help him face the court to ensure a favorable outcome. I believe that hiring a lawyer that has handled the same case as my father's case will increase our chance of getting a good result. I will make sure to consider all your tips.

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