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Have you been served with a criminal summons?

If yes, don’t fret!

You can fight your case with the help of an experienced defense attorney who’s in a better position to represent your interests and tell your story.

But, with the influx of lawyers in the market, choosing a good defense attorney can be an intimidating task.

To make it easy for you, here’s what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer:

1. Speed of Response

A good defense should be quick to respond when you reach out to them. If a lawyer fails to respond fast enough or doesn’t respond at all, it’ll be difficult to rely on them.

A reliable attorney should also have a hotline number with round-the-clock availability as well as a responsive website to answer your queries almost immediately.

2. Experience

A defense attorney with vast experience is more likely to win a case compared to one who has been practicing for just one year.

Experienced lawyers have handled many cases, and therefore, know the proper way to create a concrete defense system. They also know the ins and out of the court you’re up against, and thus, know the right procedures to follow for a seamless case.

For complex cases such as drug offenses, you can’t afford to overlook the experience of the lawyer representing you. To ascertain a lawyer’s experience, don’t hesitate to ask for proof showing how many years they’ve been in practice.

3. Work Environment

Consulting an individual lawyer means that you’ll get undivided attention on your case since they’re less likely to have many commitments.

On the other hand, lawyers in a large firm work alongside researchers and other lawyers who may positively contribute to your case. As such, large firms have more resources when compared to single-attorney law practices.

Nonetheless, when working with a large firm, be sure to work with a specific lawyer from the beginning to the end of the case. In most firms, you’ll be allocated different lawyers at different stages of your case. This inconsistency may hurt your case.

Fortunately, single-attorney practices don’t have this kind of labor division.

4. Confidence

The confidence of a lawyer doesn’t lie in their promise of winning a case, but in their sincerity.

A sincere lawyer won’t hesitate to tell you about the possible and likely penalties of your case. This means that they can’t guarantee a specific outcome of your case.

Nevertheless, by knowing the likely penalties, the lawyer will be able to predict the kind of deals that the prosecutor may offer and negotiate the best one for you.

5. Check for References

Although finding a defense lawyer can be tiresome and time-consuming, you can glide through the process by asking for references from family and/or friends.

You can also ask a lawyer who you’ve worked with previously but specializes in a different field. This lawyer’s network should certainly come in handy.

A good lawyer has a reputation to match. As such, they should have lots of satisfied past clients on their testimonials webpage. You can use these reviews to make an informed decision.

6. Cost

Lawyers tend to charge differently depending on the complexity of a case. Some charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee regardless of the amount of time spent on a case.

While flat fees are more affordable, they are subject to increase depending on how complex the case becomes as it progresses. On the other hand, hourly rates are easier to budget for especially for less complicated cases that take less time in court.

It’s important to note that the filing fees and other court costs are separate from the lawyer’s fee. So, be sure to factor in these costs when budgeting for your case.

7. Listed on Reputable Sources

There are a lot of websites that you can use to gauge the experience and service of your potential attorneys. However, not all sites can be trusted to provide rightful information.

Some of the reliable sites include the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Find Law. While it’s impossible for a lawyer to lack a few bad reviews, going through some of them can give you a general idea of what clients think about a specific lawyer.

8. The Personal Factor

A criminal defense attorney should be approachable and aim to cultivate a personal relationship with the client. This is made possible by allowing the defendant to make some decisions on the case such as whether to plead guilty or go to trial.

If a lawyer isn’t concerned with what you say or you’re not feeling comfortable talking to them, it’s time you get another lawyer.

9. Active License

Before hiring a defense attorney, ensure they have an active license.

If their license had previously been revoked but currently reinstated, you should inquire reasons behind the revocation before hiring them. If it’s something that you’re not comfortable with, it’s advisable to move on.

10. Communication

No matter how busy a defense attorney may be, they must always create time for you. This not only keeps the defendant updated on the progress of the case but also creates the impression that the lawyer is concerned and cares about the outcome of your case.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Knowing what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer is the first step toward having a successful case. Be sure to use the above guide to help you determine the attributes of a good defense attorney for your needs.

When it comes to criminal cases, Mark Nicewicz Attorney at Law understands what you’re up against. He’s a zealous advocate and skillful negotiator who has the best interests of his clients at heart.

Get a free consultation today!

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Violations
  • Reckless Driving
  • Felonies and Misdemeanors

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 1985
  • District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, 1985
  • U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims


  • University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
    • J.D. - 1985
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • B.A. magna cum laude - 1982
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
    • Major: Economics & Philosophy
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