TOP 10 QUESTIONS You Absolutely Need To Ask Before Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney

The following are just a few important questions to ask before you hire a criminal defense attorney. Much like Turnbull Legal Group, many attorneys offer a “free consultation,” which is great. However, it is important that you make good use of that time. Prepare some questions to ask your potential defense attorney and make sure you work in the questions below to give you the best chances at finding a great defense lawyer. 


1.  How long have you been practicing criminal law?

Your future is too important to hand over to an attorney who has not been practicing criminal law for a significant period of time.  Research has shown that it takes more than 10 years to become an expert in any chosen field. This is commonly referred to as the “10 year rule.”  When hiring an attorney, you will want to look for an attorney who has spent at least 10 years practicing criminal law.

2.  Have you represented clients with a situation or charge similar to mine?

Asking a criminal attorney about his or her experience with cases like yours will serve two purposes:  You will get a better understanding of what to expect, and it is important that you get a feel for an attorney’s familiarity with your situation and the effectiveness of his or her defense strategies for that particular charge.

3.  Have you ever been a felony prosecutor?

Many attorneys will open a private practice without the invaluable experience that comes from working as a prosecutor. You will want an attorney who has cultivated his or her trial skills before opening a practice. Prosecutors spend their time in the courtroom on a daily basis.  They are exposed to all types of cases and handle a wide range of criminal matters.  An attorney who has gained such invaluable training and experience before going into private practice is at an advantage.

A great criminal prosecutor can make an even better criminal defense attorney. Make sure to ask your potential lawyer about his or her experience as a prosecutor; if they have not had much, you are probably better off looking elsewhere.

4.  Have you ever been a felony District Court Judge?

An attorney with felony judicial experience will have a unique understanding of the process that will give him or her an edge in your defense. Based on that experience from the bench, a former judge has a unique understanding of what the prosecutor wants, what the prosecutor will try to do, and what the Court likely believes are the best alternatives for you.

5.  How much of your practice is devoted to criminal defense? 

You should look for an attorney who devotes more of his or her practice to criminal defense than any other area of law. You do not want to hire an attorney who practices criminal defense once in a while or occasionally.  A good rule of thumb is to hire an attorney who devotes at least 50% of his or her practice to criminal defense.

6.  How many felony jury trials have you tried to conclusion in your career?

Many attorneys like to call themselves a “Trial Lawyer” despite the fact that many of them have never tried a Jury Trial in their entire career. You will want an attorney who is familiar and confident with the trial process and not afraid to go to trial. Ask the attorney you are thinking of hiring “how many FELONY criminal cases have you tried to a verdict before a jury?” If the attorney tells you that he or she has tried less than 60 trials, you need to keep looking. 

7.  How many attorneys will be working for me and on my case?

Many law firms are solo practitioners, which means they will be the only attorney working on your case. A firm that has a team of lawyers who work on cases increases the quality of your representation and of course, the results of your situation. Would you agree that "two or more heads are better than one" when it comes to working on your case?

8.  Do you require an additional fee if pre-trial motions need to be filed or pretrial hearings are needed? Do you require an additional fee if the case goes to trial? Can you provide me with a copy of your retainer agreement to look over?

Although it really goes without saying, you should always ask attorneys about their rates and any hidden fees. People often want to pay as little as possible when hiring somebody to perform a service for them.  That plan may make sense when hiring a florist or a plumber; however, when you are charged with a crime you will want to hire the best attorney for your case.  A low fee can mean the attorney is inexperienced or has a low success record. Plea bargain lawyers may not charge you very much money, but that is because they do not plan on doing much work. Your future is at stake; hire an attorney who will investigate your case and give you a fighting chance.

9.  Can you make me any promises about the likely results of my case?

Although an experienced criminal defense attorney can often accurately predict what may happen in your case, no attorney can honestly guarantee a particular result.  An attorney who informs you of all the possible outcomes, including negative outcomes, has your best interests at heart. An attorney who makes promises about what the future holds is more concerned about getting your money than providing you with the best representation possible.

10.  How will you explain and help me understand the charges filed against me? Will you summarize my case for me in writing, including the law and facts?

Your attorney should provide you with a "Case Summary." This valuable document will break down the details and explain to you your entire situation in writing. Your "Case Summary" will include a clear and simplified explanation of your charges, the law, and every step of the attorney's activity and why. Very few attorneys provide this document to their clients. We assure our clients know and understand everything that goes on with their case.


A Final Note:  Remember that the attorney-client relationship is an incredibly important part of your defense. It is important that you feel comfortable with your attorney. Take your time, ask some questions and choose wisely. Your choice of counsel at this time can affect your life for years to come


We have offices in Houston, Bryan and Conroe, and we handle cases across the entire State of Texas and Oklahoma.

Call for your FREE consultation today! 832-314-3232