As an attorney, I was recently surprised to learn that the way many of my clients find me is by typing the Google search, “Top Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me”. Prior to the explosion of Google, clients found me by asking people they trust the following questions:
- Do you know a great criminal defense lawyer?
- How can I find a great criminal defense lawyer?
Today, when searching for a great criminal defense lawyer, I recommend that the client ask the following questions:
Does the attorney actually have a legitimate history of success of winning criminal jury trials? This is extremely important because there is a huge difference between an attorney who has handled a great number of cases, or a great number of a particular type of case, and an attorney who takes criminal cases to trial and wins. A top criminal defense lawyer wins by obtaining not guilty jury verdicts for his defendant clients. Cases where the defendant walks free after the trial, and avoids anywhere from months, to years, to decades in prison as a result of a not guilty jury verdict. I find that far too often, an attorney who advertises himself as a top criminal defense lawyer rarely takes cases to trial, and more importantly almost never wins at trial. When comparing one attorney to another, wouldn’t you rather select a lawyer that takes cases to trial and wins? I have become known as just such an attorney, In fact, I have obtained seven not guilty jury verdicts in favor of my defendant clients in federal criminal jury cases alone. That is, in part, what has established me as a top criminal defense lawyer.
There’s more to a top criminal defense lawyer than simply winning cases. A top criminal defense lawyer establishes a relationship with his client. An attorney must first fully and completely understand his/her client – not just the client’s background, but all of the facts that potentially bear upon the client’s case and the charges against them. That means much more than cookie cutter intake forms, or stock questions to the client. A top criminal defense lawyer knows his client, and gains his client’s trust and respect. That is another reason that I am considered a top criminal defense lawyer. It seems obvious that a client would be better off hiring an attorney who knows him, knows his case, and is willing to fight for his cause – rather than just focusing on how great of a fee he can charge the client.
A top criminal defense lawyer must be willing to prepare for trial. Many attorneys will say that that they are willing to try the case tomorrow, but the real question is: has the attorney done the work to be prepared to try the case? A trial involves much more than just showing up and being aggressive. Trial work takes extensive preparation, including identifying witnesses, interviewing witnesses, issuing subpoenas to witnesses, consulting with or hiring expert witnesses, reviewing discovery, and preparing witness examinations – most importantly cross-examinations. A top criminal defense lawyer has to be willing to spend the time, before ever setting foot in the courtroom, doing all of those things. My willingness to undertake those tasks, some of which are tedious and time consuming, has separated me out as a top criminal defense lawyer.
A top criminal defense lawyer must be able to not only perform, but to excel, in the courtroom. A criminal defense lawyer typically spends anywhere from 50% to 80% of his time at trial, cross-examining the government’s witnesses, including members of law enforcement, fact witnesses, eyewitness, and experts. So, a top criminal defense lawyer must be an excellent cross-examiner of witnesses. I am known for my skill at trial in cross-examining the government’s witnesses. That is one of the reasons that I am considered a top criminal defense lawyer.
Don’t be fooled by exaggerated or unsupported claims by the attorney. A top criminal defense relies upon more than a slogan. Also, many attorneys will tell the client that they know the prosecutor, or used to work in the office that is prosecuting the client, or that they know, or have a great relationship with the Judge. So what? That is meaningless to the jury, the Judge, and most importantly the client when the case goes to trial. Who you know is not a good measure of a top criminal defense lawyer.
In sum, a top criminal defense lawyer is one who: has a history of success in winning jury trials; who is willing to take the time to develop a relationship with his client; who is willing to take the time to prepare for trial; who can excel in the courtroom; and who relies upon something more than slogans, or who he knows, or where he used to work.
-Michael Leonard – Leonard Trial Lawyers