What Are The Best Characteristics Of A Great Criminal Defense Attorney?
I think I can speak pretty freely on this subject having been a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles for the last twenty-five years. In my opinion, probably the number one characteristic that I would want when trying to choose a criminal defense attorney would be that they know the courthouse, are local to it and know the players within the courthouse.
Knowing how a courthouse operates, knowing the tendencies of the judge and prosecutor and knowing how to handle certain cases is huge. Being local, you’re going to know people in there and you are going to have a good feel for how the system runs, and you’re going to have a good feel for how you’re going to handle a particular client’s case.
Probably the second thing that I would say would be important in a criminal defense attorney would be their attitude and personality. I can’t tell you how many cases I have won because I have been able to either convince a jury, the prosecutor or the judge of my client’s position. It’s huge. If you can convince the key parties in a case of your position, you’re going to be successful and be able to win your case. That’s what it’s all about – getting the result for your client.
Probably the next crucial factor I would look at is experience. How long has the attorney been handling criminal defense? I’m not really that impressed with prosecutors because it’s easier to prosecute people because you typically have the evidence, the police and you’ve got all the money to be able to prosecute a case. You usually have the advantage. The judges are usually former prosecutors. So, being a prosecutor to me is meaningless. What is important is how long have you been a criminal defense attorney? What experience do you have in that court? How many cases have you done there? How many of the type of case that your client has have you done? So, experience is crucial.
The next factor I would look at is knowledge of the law. There are some cases when knowing the law, knowing how to argue motions and knowing how to argue the case is huge. So, knowing the law, having done cases similar to the type of case your client has, for example, for a burglary case, how many burglary cases have you done? What type of success have you had in that court? What are the issues in a burglary case?
Not every case is a legal law case where you have to know the law, but I definitely think that’s an important factor in criminal defense, because knowing the law, fighting motions, getting cases dismissed is crucial in a lot of cases.
Probably the next factor I would look at is somebody who can litigate a case because if you don’t have any teeth as a criminal defense attorney who cares? In other words, prosecutors aren’t going to be afraid to take a case to trial against certain lawyers because they know that that lawyer is not going to be able to win the case. They know that lawyer is a deal cutter – that’s all they do is cut deals. Yes, there’s a lot of deals that are cut in criminal defense, but sometimes you have to be able to fight a case and if your lawyer can’t fight a case in Los Angeles, you’ve got a big problem.
So, the bottom line is you have to look at all these factors and then compare them to your case and see what is important to your case.
I get the people in. We talk about the case. We get all the facts on the table and then we can figure out exactly what is going to be important. What factors that I just mentioned are going to be crucial for your case. You get the attorney to execute the plan and you get the result you’re supposed to.
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