It is no secret that a good criminal defense attorney is one of the keys to putting up a robust defense. A skilled criminal defense attorney will know what to do at each step of your case, from interviewing witnesses and filing motions on your behalf, to negotiating a plea deal and representing you in court.

However, not every criminal defense attorney practices law at the highest level. Some might cut corners, while others lack the communication skills necessary to keep you up to date. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney might just not have the experience necessary to get the job done.

If you feel your lawyer isn’t representing you fairly, you should know that you can always seek new counsel. To help you make that decision, here are several ways to know if you hired a good or bad criminal defense attorney.

Examine Their Experience

Experience matters, especially in criminal court as it can be one of the main indicators of a successful defense. If the lawyer you have hired to represent you hasn’t spent years in the courtroom negotiating plea deals, filing motions to have unlawfully obtained evidence dismissed, and getting not guilty verdicts, you have hired a second rate lawyer.

Only lawyers with years of experience know what it takes to get their clients’ charges reduced or dropped altogether. Only lawyers with years of experience know how to mount a compelling defense and convince a jury of your innocence. If your lawyer doesn’t have that kind of experience, it might be time to look for a new one.

Consider Their Communication

In order for a criminal defense attorney to successfully represent their clients, they need to be expert communicators. This includes keeping you in the loop with the latest developments in your case, but it also means keeping the opposing counsel and the judge apprised of what is happening. 

Listening to rulings and responding to all forms of communication quickly and succinctly are the marks of a good criminal defense attorney. If you aren’t seeing that with your lawyer it’s time to move on.

Beware Their Boasting

Some lawyers will make over-the-top promises. They will guarantee a not guilty verdict or that your charges will be dropped. While confidence can be a good thing, promises are no replacement for hard work and results.

There are too many factors outside the control of your lawyer for them to guarantee anything other than that they will give your case the time and attention it deserves. If your lawyer is promising you will walk, you should look for a new lawyer, one who will tell you the truth and fight with everything they have to get you the best possible outcome.

Survey Their Support Team 

The myth of the lone wolf criminal defense attorney is just that, a myth. Every good criminal defense attorney is supported by a skilled team of administrative assistants, paralegals, and in many cases, other lawyers. By working with a team, your lawyer has more resources to draw from as they strategically put together your defense.

In addition to questioning your lawyer, you should survey his or her team to get a feel for their level of competence. If your lawyer is surrounded by an unskilled staff, you might need to find a new firm.

Assess Their Attention

While your defense might be the most important thing going on in your life, with dozens of other clients, it is possible that your lawyer isn’t giving your defense the time and attention it deserves. Even though your lawyer might be busy, that is no excuse for not giving your case their utmost attention. They should be willing to meet with you regularly, respond to your questions and messages quickly, and know your case inside and out.

If you are sensing that your lawyer picks up your file only when at a hearing or at trial, you need to find a criminal defense attorney who will give you the time of day.

Hiring a Quality Criminal Defense Attorney

In order to avoid a bad criminal defense attorney, it is best to interview them before you hire them to gauge their level of experience, communication skills, and all the other traits that make for a successful lawyer. 

And, keep in mind that some attorneys handle a variety of practice areas – ranging from contracts to personal injury to criminal law. If you’ve been charged with a serious sex crime or accused of domestic violence, you really need to make sure that you think about hiring an attorney who exlcusively represents individuals against criminal charges like yours. An attorney who focuses or specializes in criminal defense will likely offer the type of representation you need – and fit the bill as a “good” attorney in the process.

Putting in the extra effort ahead of time by questioning your potential counselor will save you heartache and frustration later on.