10 Things to Consider When Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522


I recently read another criminal lawyer’s advertisement claiming he had not lost a trial since 1999. I found this to be an incredible statement. I seriously doubt that the claim is anything but technically true. A football analogy might put it into perspective though: you don’t judge a second string quarterback on how few interceptions he throws. Any lawyer who regularly tries criminal cases is going to lose from time to time. The misleading nature of lawyer statistics inspired me to jot down some thoughts on non-statistical considerations when hiring a criminal lawyer.

  1. Can you picture other people listening to your lawyer about your case? one way or another, your attorney is going to have to present your case to at least one other person—prosecutor, judge or jury. Almost all of us picture ourselves using products before we buy them, why shouldn’t we try to picture a lawyer arguing on your behalf.
  2. Does the lawyer appear to have knowledge about the particular area of law? time is one of the few resources which defense lawyers have in greater supply than prosecutors. Criminal cases can involve complex legal and scientific issues. An attorney who enjoys what he does and makes beneficial use of time for his or her clients are usually not shy to share what they know about a particular topic.
  3. Be wary of promises lawyers can’t guarantee a result, but that doesn’t stop some from doing it. Just like patients go to the doctor hoping to hear everything is going to be okay, clients hope to hear the same from their lawyer. A lot of times things do turn out okay and lawyers can always help make things better. But, just like a medical diagnoses without an examination you should be skeptical of a legal diagnoses without an investigation.
  4. An attorney should also be an educator if the law provides that it is the client’s decision whether to plead guilty or not guilty, shouldn’t this be an informed decision? There are four distinct topics of conversation that should take place through the course of representation: (1) a discussion about the process, (2) a discussion about the evidence and how it might be used (3) a discussion about the best defensive theories, (4) the pros and cons of each option leading to a resolution of the case.
  5. Is the attorney and his staff accessible? Hiring a lawyer will remove some of the weight from the shoulders but there are invariably more questions, more concerns, more work to do after the initial consultation. Sometimes it is hard to tell from the outset whether your lawyer will fall off the grid after you hire him, but there are tell-tale signs. If you had a hard time setting up the initial consultation—it may be a sign of things to come. Some attorneys employ legal assistants and paralegals who can enhance the service you receive through representation. Ideally, these staff members also have advanced training in criminal law to help answer your questions when an attorney is not available.  
  6. The attorney should be a listener Attorneys like to hear their own voice. We like to impress people with what we know and our solutions to their problems. Sometimes an attorney can talk right over the client’s problem. One of the golden rules they taught in law school is “when the judge speaks, you stop.” This is usually a good policy when having a discussion with clients.
  7. Does the attorney define his role and what to expect from representation if an attorney can’t guarantee an outcome then what can he do? After explaining the process, the attorney should explain what his role is. An attorney should have some sort of initial game plan. If you don’t make decisions on the “just trust me” model in other aspects of your life, why start when hiring legal representation.
  8. The policies of a particular county have an impact on the case some people say that you should always hire a criminal lawyer in the county where your case is pending. This is not always necessarily true. What is true is that every county has its own set of policies. Different courts have different rules and different tendencies. In addition, each elected district attorney has his or her own specific set of policies which can affect plea bargaining and punishment.
  9. Website considerations a website is a great opportunity for an attorney to introduce himself and begin educating potential clients. There are enough “good” websites out there that it is hard to distinguish a lawyer solely on his or her website, however you may be able to weed out some of the bad ones. As attorneys we are far from website gurus by trade, but we are in the business of anticipating the manner in which a presentation may psychologically appeal to viewers or listeners. One great example of being detached in this manner are websites littered with pictures of guns, drugs, alcohol, handcuffs and jail cells.
  10. You should like your attorney all other considerations aside, you should hire an attorney who you like; someone who is personable. The attorney client relationship in a criminal case can last for months or even years. There are enough attorneys in the world; you shouldn’t have to be saddled with someone you don’t like.


*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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