Joshua T. Crain Law Blog

How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

Finding the best criminal defense lawyer for your case requires attention and detail

We all make mistakes. It’s just part of the human condition. Sometimes, we are at fault, but other times we are not. Knowing which side of the line you stand on is never clear-cut.

When you are charged with offenses by the police and the state, it can feel like legitimacy is not on your side.

However, a great criminal lawyer will tell you that nothing is signed, sealed, or delivered until you have fought for your case to prove your innocence.

Facing criminal charges of any kind is daunting, to say the least. Most people have never imagined themselves in this position and so, they have never thought about what their reaction and plan of action would be.

The simplest solution is often the best, so here’s why you should find the best criminal defense lawyer you can.

Provide References

Hiring a criminal lawyer is much like selecting a professional to work in your home. You should ask for references. Who else have they worked for? What was their experience with them?

The criminal lawyer you want to choose to defend you should have zero issues providing a list of references for you to research. If they can only provide you with the casework they did, but not any of the contact information of the client, this is a bad sign.

However, even if they have a long list of references, it doesn’t mean you should hire them. If their latest cases were all losses, or perhaps they were few and far between, this is not a good sign.


As mentioned above, find out how often they have been practicing recently. If they have taken on just a few cases in the past few years, this could mean they are a little rusty. They may not be up to speed with the recent changes in law, not familiar with updated practices in the judicial process, and their time and schedule management skills might be fading.

Criminal lawyers are human beings too, so try to find out what is going on with them. Do they have a hectic lifestyle? Are they busy with other things to focus on full-time on your case?

What Is Their Win/Loss Ratio?

You shouldn’t always focus on their win ratio but it does give you a good gauge of how successful they might be with your case. Sometimes, criminal lawyers have more losses than wins, but those losses were at the beginning of their careers when they were still green.

Likewise, you may have a 50-50 ratio whereby sometimes the criminal lawyer goes through a phase of wins, than losses. Try to catch them in their winning phase when they are on a run. If however, you have a win ratio that far outweighs the losses, then this is the best sign that they are a good choice because they know how to get results.

Specific Knowledge

Law is a very wide-reaching part of society. It’s a complex profession that is constantly changing and knowledge has to be renewed all the time. Each case is different but the category of your charge should be known very well by the criminal lawyer you choose.

So you should ask the lawyer what their knowledge is of the type that your case is relevant to. If you have been charged with drug charges, but it’s a lower-class drug, they should know how to defend you without dismissing the seriousness of the charge to you. Only select a criminal lawyer who understands the laws regarding the charges that you face.

The following are some of the most common practice areas. Let’s explore in what way each of these should be approached and how you should select a criminal lawyer to defend you.

Facing DUI Charges?

In some cases, a DUI is not a major charge. It may not just be your first DUI, but your very first charge. Usually, the state is lenient in these cases because painting you as a reckless person is not going to fly. However, if this is your second or perhaps higher-numbered DUI charge, working with a criminal lawyer is a must. The charge will be the same but the penalties will be ramped up.

So, should you work with a specialist DUI lawyer or a criminal lawyer who may not specialize in this area, but has extensive experience? It depends on the individual lawyer. Between a young specialist DUI lawyer and a seasoned criminal lawyer with multiple practice areas, you can bet that you’d rather have the latter standing by your side in court.

Aside from experience, you also want a criminal lawyer that has the right education. Doing a little research of how respected the criminal bar is, that your potential lawyer passed and is a member of, is a great way to gauge this.

You should also try to consider their latest case studies. Take a look at their recent cases, their clients, and what the result was. If they have proven that they are staying on top of their game, fight for their clients using every possible conceivable strategy, then consider him or her to represent you.

Domestic Assaults

A domestic violence charge is very serious. It could affect your family ties, your ability to see your children, and your reputational image in your community. In some cases, a domestic violence charge can even affect your professional employability.

So, working with a criminal lawyer that practices in this area, is of course your starting point. The type of lawyer you need to find is one who understands the implication of the criminal charges you face. Family and domestic violence laws are inherently intertwined. So if you are being charged with assault and battery against your wife or husband, and there are kids involved, you need a special type of lawyer.

Try to find a lawyer that has both family law and criminal law experience. They will understand the current legislation of the state and federal government, which gives you a wider spectrum of options to fight your case.

Last but not least regarding domestic violence, pick a criminal lawyer that understands how important your personal life and future are. Working with a lawyer who just wants a notch on their belt, and isn’t considering possible custody battles in the future and possible time spent behind bars is not going to fight his or her heart out for you.

Drug Charges

Perhaps one of the most complex areas of criminal law is narcotics. Drug abuse and supply laws are constantly changing. Both the state and the federal government are at odds, as to how they should approach this area of law and order. Many states have a more lax approach to some drugs that are less harmful while the federal government has its own view of how much of a drug you need to be in possession of before you can be charged with intent to supply. It’s a very murky area of law.

This is why you should work with a criminal lawyer that is familiar with both state and federal drug laws. If your case involves charges of crossing state lines with drugs in your possession, it’s even more important why you need a lawyer of this type.

Not to mention, stacked criminal charges have to be fought in an interlinked manner. One charge might give another charge its buoyancy. So knowing which charges to tackle so that other charges may become weaker, is a skill that only an experienced and well-versed criminal lawyer has.

What we’re getting at here is, select a criminal lawyer that is competent in fighting drug charges. Inspect their case studies and see if they have fought and won cases similar to yours. They should be willing to talk to you on the phone or via email and display their knowledge in the area of legislation that you find yourself knee-deep in.

Sex Crimes

Being charged with a sexual assault crime is incredibly serious. If you know you are innocent, it can be truly heartbreaking. Many people who have been charged with a sex crime, often lose friends, their families disown them and their careers seemingly come close to an end.

Therefore, it cannot be said often enough; find yourself a criminal lawyer that has the experience, competency, and backbone to fight for you. The consequences of not finding a qualified sexual defense lawyer are unthinkable. Now is not the time to think about how much the cost of such a lawyer would be, you just need to focus on wiping this black mark against your name clean.

How do you know you have the right hunch about a criminal lawyer? They will do a few things, right off the bat.

The criminal lawyer you choose should be able to tell you what their information-gathering process is on the phone. It only takes a few seconds. If they mention some of the above, you should consider them as competent in their field. You may also find that asking the lawyer to give a preview of their defense once they get some of this information, is a good gauging tactic to see if they understand your position and the reality of the case.


The most serious charge of all, homicide. First things first, check where they went to law school and which bar they passed. Check out their profile page to see their list of education, bar associations, and any relevant experience such as positions of prominence. Being an assistant district attorney general of something similar works a lot in their favor.

What are their attributes? Have they been given ratings by past clients? What are their best points? Do they have a long history of success, homicide charges experience, state contacts, a great legal network, or knowledge of the latest criminal law regarding your specific homicide charge?

Asking them about their experience in cases that are like yours will let you know if they are a good choice. Not every homicide charge or case will go the same as another. So a nuanced, intricate understanding of your case specifically, is vital to your success.

Find out how often they take on homicide cases. Even if a criminal lawyer has years of homicide case experience, if their last case was a couple of years ago, that does not bode well for you. Their tools need to be sharpened but you should not be the test case they use to do this. Unfortunately, you’ll have to move on from someone like this if they do not satisfy your questioning.

The type of tactic they take on is also important. If it turns out that a large portion of their cases is plea bargains instead of defenses, this is a bad sign. They may not have the stomach for the battle you face, and they would rather take on cases that pursue the easiest option as the main tactic of the defense.

So finding the best criminal lawyer is searching for someone who is ready for a long hard grueling battle because they believe in you, they want to win and they value the experience for their own selves as a professional criminal lawyer. They will know that you may be facing years and years in prison, so they will dedicate months or years to your defense.

We ask you to trust in us and our history of success in criminal defense. If you would like to know more about how we could defend you in the best way possible, contact us today with any questions you have.