What Makes a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Makes a Good Criminal Defense LawyerIf you’ve recently been arrested in Los Angeles, you need a good criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the thought of jail time or hefty fines is scary for anyone.

An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your options and will stand up for you and fight for the best possible outcome for your future.

There are five criteria that make a criminal defense lawyer great.

These five criteria are:

  1. Experience taking criminal cases to trial
  2. A passion for criminal defense
  3. Strong negotiation skills
  4. Time and resources to devote to your case
  5. Good communication 

If you find a lawyer with these five traits, you will have a lawyer with the knowledge, skills, and experience to put you in the best position to fight your criminal charges. Many criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations so that you have an opportunity to assess these important factors.

#1 Criminal Trial Experience

The first element that makes a good criminal defense lawyer is experience with criminal trials.  This is a crucial thing to look for when you are trying to choose a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.  

There are two types of trials in the law.  One type of trial is a civil trial, while the other kind is a criminal trial. 

Civil trials encompass everything except criminal charges. Examples include personal injury lawsuits, contract disputes, and even divorce proceedings.  Many lawyers with trial experience may not actually have experience handling criminal trials.  The two types of trials are extremely different.

Because civil trials are so different from criminal trials, you need to make sure your defense attorney has taken criminal cases to trial.  Understanding the law of criminal procedure and constitutional defenses to criminal charges requires years of trial experience to fully grasp. 

For example, an experienced criminal trial lawyer will have a deep understanding of the defenses available at trial relating to:

  • Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful searches and arrests
  • Fifth Amendment (Miranda) protections against self incrimination 
  • Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights 
  • Sixth Amendment rights to confront accusers and call witnesses

These are all issues that would not come up in a civil trial. There are three ways a lawyer can get criminal trial experience. These are as a prosecutor, as a public defender, or as a private criminal defense lawyer.

One of the best ways to get experience with criminal trials is by working as a prosecutor. A criminal defense attorney who has served as a district attorney will have valuable insight into how the case against you will be prosecuted.

#2 Passion for Criminal Defense Work

The second requirement for what makes a good criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles is passion for criminal defense work.  Criminal defense is a battle.  It gets nasty. It can be highly stressful for the lawyers involved. 

This is why a criminal defense attorney can never be great if they do not have a passion for the work and love what they do.  A criminal defense lawyer who is not passionate about fighting for the innocence and rights of the accused will be burnt out and not do a good job.  They may make concessions or give up more easily. 

On the other hand, a defense lawyer who has passion will stand up against the prosecutor and injustice day in and day out.  If negotiations are going poorly, the passionate defense lawyer will not accept a bad deal just get the case over with.  A passionate defense attorney will fight hard and take the case to trial. 

Passionate defense attorneys will also act as counselors to their clients. This is because they truly care about you.  An attorney without passion views their clients as just another case, just another buck. The passionate defense lawyer sees you as an innocent person who deserves the very best the lawyer can give. 

#3 Strong Negotiation Skills

Many criminal cases do go to trial. But you also want a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who is skilled at the art of negotiation. Don’t overlook this important skill when choosing a lawyer.

A strong negotiator can stand up to the prosecutor and present compelling arguments that could earn you a lesser sentence with a plea deal or possibly even keep you out of jail. 

#4 Resources and Time to Devote to You

The third factor that makes a good criminal defense lawyer is time and resources to devote to you.  A lawyer who is incredibly experienced and passionate cannot do a great job if they are simply too busy to give your case the time and attention you deserve.

Criminal cases require a painstakingly thorough approach. Every single scrap of evidence needs to be carefully scrutinized. A defense lawyer must spend hours and hours searching for problems in the prosecution’s case against you.

For instance, an attorney needs to identify any unlawful actions taken by police. This requires a careful review of police reports, eyewitness accounts, and video footage from dash cams and body cams.  Once an issue is identified, the work is not over. The attorney needs to do legal research and write a formal legal brief called a “motion to suppress evidence.”

To write excellent motions, such as a motion to suppress, a great deal of time is required.  A motion is like writing a research paper, except it is about the law and how the police violated it. This is very time consuming. 

A lawyer and their law office must not be too busy to give your case the time and attention needed. They need time and resources to devote to you. Without time, experience and passion don’t matter.  Without time, things may be missed. Or worse, the lawyer may simply not be able to do everything they can for you.

#5 Good Communication

You need to find a criminal defense lawyer that you know will be available when you need them. Find out how the lawyer will communicate with you and how often you will get updates on your case. You are sure to have lots of questions and feel anxious about criminal charges. You want to have an attorney who will answer all of your questions. You need to trust that they will tell you the good and the bad about your case and help you make the best possible decision for your future.

If you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles, you deserve legal representation with experience, passion, and time. Get in touch with the Rodriguez Law Group to learn how we can help you.