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How can I find a private defense lawyer?

When you’re accused of a criminal offense, your best defense is a competent, capable attorney. Not just any attorney will do, though. You need one who is an expert in criminal law in your jurisdiction. Here are some tips to help you find a private defense lawyer who meets your needs.

Look for a Criminal Defense Focus

Many attorneys, especially those in small towns or cities, practice both civil and criminal law. However, if you have the option of choosing someone who focuses on criminal defense, that’s probably the wisest route. Attorneys who concentrate on criminal cases understand the local and individual nature of the cases. He or she likely has many years of experience in the field; most have worked as public defenders or prosecutors to gain insight to go along with their formal education.

Search Locally First

Even within a state, procedures vary from court to court. For example, some prosecutors are more willing to accept a plea bargain than others. Every judge has his or her preferences for courtroom behavior, dress codes, and other topics that are important to present a positive image. Local attorneys are more likely to have positive relationships with court staff that can help with any paperwork issues that may arise. Because this local knowledge is helpful to your case, you should try to find an attorney locally if possible.

Consider the Type of Charge

Criminal law casts a wide net from violent crimes against a person to drug offenses to white-collar crimes. Not every criminal defense attorney is familiar with every type of offense. When you interview an attorney, ask about experience with the specific violation with which you are charged. This discussion can go a long way in helping you gain confidence in his or her ability to defend you. Here are a few questions that you may want to ask. If the attorney is vague or refuses to answer, you should keep looking.

  • How many people have you represented who were charged with the same charge I am facing?
  • How often do you appear in the courtroom that will handle my case?
  • What percentage of your clients are charged with offenses similar to mine?

Find a Lawyer With Whom You Are Comfortable Working

Your lawyer’s ability to represent you effectively may determine whether you spend time in jail or go home to your family. When you place your life in someone else’s hands, you need to be comfortable with him or her on a personal level. The ideal relationship between attorney and client is one in which the two work together thoroughly in every aspect of the case. You want to feel as if your attorney sees you as a person and not just another file.

If you’re facing a criminal charge, the lawyer you choose is critically important and not to be taken lightly. Contact a capable, competent criminal defense attorney in San Mateo, CA who is familiar with operations in your jurisdiction to walk you through each step of the process.


Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal defense and how to find a lawyer.



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