A criminal record is something that one wants to avoid as much as possible because having one can affect many aspects of one’s life: educational opportunities, employment, social standing, and credit standing, among other things. While some crimes are more serious than others, in the end it does not really matter because it is still a black mark. Knowing this, it follows that when charged with a crime, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer is of paramount importance.
In the US, ensuring that a defendant has access to a lawyer is so important that one is provided for free for those who cannot afford to hire one. Called public defenders, these lawyers are generally as qualified and passionate as a private lawyer, but the volume of work they have to handle and the resources available to them puts them at a disadvantage. If it is at all possible, it would best to hire a private lawyer who will be able to concentrate on a case much more than a public defender can.
However, this does not mean that the most expensive lawyers are necessarily the best one for each case. The best criminal defense lawyer is someone who has already successfully defended clients in the particular crime at issue. As an article on the website of law firm Kohler Hart Powell, SC in Wisconsin puts it, experience matters. Lawyers are licensed to handle all kinds of criminal cases, but from inclination or circumstance tend to specialize in two or three types, so it would be good to narrow the search to lawyers who have a good track record handling a particular type of case. A highly skilled lawyer on a certain field can make the difference compared to a lawyer who specializes in a different kind of cases.
Depending on whether the crime is federal or state, it is also important to choose a lawyer who is licensed to practice in the right jurisdiction. Some lawyers are licensed to defend on both the state and federal levels, while some stick to one or the other. In general, federal cases usually carry more serious penalties, so the lawyer should have an established practice in defending federal cases.
Membership in criminal defense organizations is also a significant factor when choosing the right criminal defense lawyer. This is an indication that the lawyer takes a considerable interest in the criminal defense side of the practice.