Create a List of Potential Criminal Defense Attorneys

You can run a search for a criminal attorney online (lawyers.com, avvo.com, etc.), check local phone directories, or ask for references from friends, family, or even previous attorneys you've worked with. Lawyers are often a great referral source. Look at biographical information, including whatever you can find on Web sites for the lawyers and their law firms.


Learn Specific Information about each Attorney on your list

Do they appear to have expertise in the area of criminal law that you need? Do they have any information on their Web sites that is helpful to you? Do they belong to any reputable associations in the area of expertise that you need? Can you find any articles, FAQ's or other informational pieces that the lawyer has done that give you a level of comfort? Ask other people if they have heard of the lawyers and what they think about them. Contact your state bar association or visit their Web site to find out if the lawyers are in good standing. Do the lawyers advertise? If so, do you find it compelling? Helpful? Tasteful? Check out the online archives of your local newspaper. Has there been any publicity about the lawyers or the cases that they have handled?


Determine an Attorney's experience handling criminal cases

With your list of criminal attorneys to consider, you now need to do some research on them. Gather as much information as you can to help narrow your search. Specific experience is vitally important in handling a criminal case. Make sure the candidate has not only handled your type of case (i.e. illegal drugs, bank fraud, etc.), but has also handled cases in that specific venue (state, local or federal court).


Assess a criminal defense attorney's personality and demeanor

Next, you'll need to set up a meeting to speak with your potential future criminal attorney face-to-face. This can usually be accomplished by calling their respective office. Don't be discouraged from considering a criminal attorney who can't meet with you immediately; that usually means they are highly requested and worth evaluating.


Making the Final Decision

Now that you have narrowed your list, check references to see what others have to say about the lawyer and how they handled their individual case. Knowing how they handled cases similar to yours is important. Make sure you are treated with common courtesy from the lawyer and the other staff at the firm. The lawyer should have complete knowledge of the particular area of criminal law (state or federal). Make sure that you have confidence in the lawyer you choose to represent you as it is critical that you feel comfortable with your selection. Do not allow yourself to be forced into any action you do not agree with taking. It is important to take your time in choosing the perfect criminal defense lawyer to represent you.