What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

You’ve been charged with a crime. Or maybe you suspect that you’re about to be charged with a crime. It doesn’t matter if the offense is an indictable  or a disorderly persons — the charges could have a major impact on your life and quite possibly change its trajectory.


Just about anyone can be charged with a crime. A skilled defense attorney can be the difference between getting charges dropped,reduced, or being punished to the maximum extent allowed by law.   


The following tips can help you to navigate the legal landscape and assist in your search for appropriate legal representation in the instance that you find yourself in a situation where you are charged with a crime or anticipate charges might be on pending.


Select an experienced criminal defense attorney


This is perhaps the single most important factor to consider. When you’re searching for a criminal defense attorney, experience really matters. It’s imperative that you retain representation that will minimize the damage that the exposure to charges can have on your reputation.


As you endure this process, having confidence in your defense team means greater peace of mind and a greater likelihood of you achieving the outcomes you desire.


Think of this as a short-term investment with several positive long-term implications. You’ll want representation that has heard it all and seen it all, so that they will be prepared for it all as it comes your way throughout the legal process.


Look for an attorney with many years of experience in the state where you need representation.  Insist on a criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of positive outcomes.


For instance, Law offices of Robert J. Degroot recently had a case where the Third Circuit overturned the case and created a new law. A ruling such as this indicates that the criminal defense attorney has a strong understanding of the law and has the grit necessary to achieve a positive outcome.


Select a criminal defense attorney familiar with motion and brief writing



Up to 97% of criminal cases result in a guilty plea. Let that sink in for a moment.


Most criminal defense attorneys are limited in terms of their motion and brief writing experience. Research and writing are often severely neglected in a criminal litigation.


A motion is a written request that asks a court to do (or not to do) something. A brief is a more detailed written document that provides a legal explanation for why the court should take action.


This can lead to a situation where the judge doesn’t have a thoughtful, succinct, and factual story-based argument to draw upon in order to rule in a defendant’s favor.


A criminal defense attorney with strong and compelling writing experience can absolutely be the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict.


Find a criminal defense attorney with experience at both the federal and state level



Many attorneys will advertise that they handle “every kind of criminal case at every level”. Don’t accept this claim at face value. It takes a next level of experience to successfully handle cases at the federal level.


If you are charged with a federal crime such as federal drug charges, tax fraud, or federal medical fraud it is important to recognize that these charges are very serious and require a different type of legal navigation.


Do your research to ensure that you’re working with an attorney who has had successful outcomes in federal court.


Ask for a referral


Despite advertising being a multi-billion dollar industry, there’s still nothing more powerful than a word-of-mouth referral. Odds are you know several people who have needed legal advice or representation in the past.


Discretely leverage your network to determine if there’s someone who suits your specific needs. By privately leaning on your professional, personal, or social media contacts, you may be able to reduce a great deal of time in screening candidates when you’d rather be focusing your resources elsewhere.


Remember, you’re not asking your networking if they can recommend any criminal defense attorney. You’re asking specifically if they can both recommend a criminal defense attorney and attest to the positive outcomes of the recommended attorney.


Use a referral site such as Avvo


Don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your professional or personal contacts for referrals? We get it. This can be a very personal process that some would prefer to keep as private as possible, so why not use an anonymous referral site like Seattle-based Avvo.com?


Avvo is essentially a database of legal questions and their corresponding answers, as well as a marketplace where you can find a wide variety of local legal experts and representation, depending on the type of specialized attorney you’re in need of. It’s completely anonymous to search, and you can narrow your queries by city, state, name, legal topic, or practice area.


One of the biggest benefits of Avvo is the opportunity it provides to read real reviews that clients have posted regarding a particular attorney. Reviews such as these can be incredibly helpful in selecting representation:  However, you should attempt to differentiate Attorneys who ask clients with favorable outcomes to write reviews and those reviews that are unsolicited. Also, you should examine the type of case the reviewer was involved in, e.g. its complexity.


“Robert DeGroot has been my attorney for over 20 years. He has always been: thorough, devoted, wise, and always an advocate who fights for my legal rights. I have recommended Mr. DeGroot to many of my friends and colleagues and he has acted as a trusted advisor and counsel to them as well. I highly recommend his services to anyone with legal needs.”


Contact a New Jersey White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney


If you are under investigation or have been charged with any type of fraud–such as tax fraud or bank fraud–or white collar crime in New Jersey, criminal defense attorney Robert J. DeGroot is ready to meet with you. For a free initial consultation, call 866-970-0783 or contact our Newark law firm online.


If you are incarcerated, our criminal law attorney can meet with you in jail. Reach out today, because we’re here to help!