What Makes a Great Criminal Defense Lawyer?

The 5 Unexpected Traits You Should Look for When You Need the Best Legal Representation

If you've recently been arrested and/or you're facing criminal charges, your future may depend on who represents you against those charges.

As a criminal defendant, you will put the essence of your American citizenship -- your freedom and your reputation -- into the hands of the criminal lawyer who defends your case.

It's valuable to know that you have the right to have a criminal attorney to advise you. In selecting that attorney, you must carefully consider who can best guide you through the legal system, and who can best make your case for you. Just passing the bar exam isn't enough. Criminal defense law firms are many and very different in their approaches to protecting your legal rights, so it's important to think beyond hiring law students (e.g., My Cousin Vinny, Legally Blond) and truly consider who will defend your constitutional rights before you sign a retainer agreement and commit to legal representation.

There are five largely intangible traits that can be found in almost every one of the best criminal defense attorneys. They are:

+ Extensive Experience.

This goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway. The best criminal defense lawyers have represented the most cases, and the best law firms have the highest percentage of success. Experience in cases like yours can also be an indicator that you've found a lawyer you can count on to represent you. As an example, if you're facing a drug offense, you definitely want an experienced defense lawyer who has provided effective representation to others facing a drug offense. “Don't hesitate to ask about the number of cases an attorney has tried, and if any have been similar to your case,” advises Attorney Bill Beckert, a principal of Jainchill & Beckert, Attorneys-At-Law. “Great attorneys won't hold back – they want you to ask questions.” He added, “Your lawyer should have the courtroom trial experience and results to make the prosecuting attorney worry about obtaining a conviction.” Certifications that represent an attorney's commitment to criminal defense are also important, including board certification, which is not given lightly. Attorney Jainchill, another principal at Jainchill & Beckert, says, “Bill and I take great pride in our certifications from professional organizations. We're proud to be recognized by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification and the National Trial Lawyers Association. And being listed in the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Connecticut is a great honor!”

Bottom line: an experienced lawyer who understands the criminal defense process will have a better chance of helping you to avoid jail time, and will be most likely to defend the constitutional right guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution -- innocence until guilt is proven.

+ Outstanding Skill as a Negotiator.

A great criminal defense attorney is, by nature, a good negotiator. Your attorney should understand the criminal charges against you and be able to use negotiation skills to ease you through the defense process. If your lawyer is a skilled negotiator, he or she may also be able to lessen charges or arrange for more optimal sentencing. The ability of your attorney to bargain, to make deals and to “give a little to get a little” is incredibly valuable and makes your attorney worth his or her weight in gold.

In addition, the right criminal defense attorney should be expert in helping clients avoid jail time. Whether or not you've actually committed a criminal offense, your criminal lawyer should have an arsenal of contacts, methods and defense strategies that can be brought to bear on your behalf.

As a negotiator, your attorney should also be adroit at navigating plea negotiations, and be willing to offer or accept a plea bargain when it is in your best interest.

+ A Great Communicator.

When you choose a private attorney, that lawyer should be a gifted communicator, and that goes far beyond the words he or she uses and the tone in which those words are spoken. You want to hire an experienced attorney who is both easy to talk to and a good listener.

You should also seek out an attorney who is easy to understand. The law is full of Latin terms, acronyms and incredibly complex themes and ideas. The lawyer you choose to represent you should never leave you scratching your head about what just happened or what was meant by a word or phrase.

Your attorney should also be accessible and easy to communicate with. When you speak to attorneys before hiring them, ask how they can be reached, and how special circumstances and emergencies along the way will be handled. A lawyer who is not forthcoming with a direct method of ongoing, two-way communication may be difficult to reach at critical times during legal proceedings, which could leave you frustrated. “My clients know how to get in touch with me whenever they need me,” explained Attorney Beckert. “'Jainchill & Beckert' aren't just the names above the door of our law firm – we are invested in everyone we represent, and we handle each case personally. It's important to us that our clients know that.”

+Passion About the Law/Compassion for Your Case and Your Situation.

The study and practice of law is highly technical and regulated. It requires very specific knowledge. An attorney who does not enjoy the daily challenges of law – the advocacy, research, and writing – will probably not be an attorney who will be able to provide the passion necessary to fight fully for justice on your behalf.

It's equally necessary to find a lawyer who is invested in you. It doesn't matter if you're dealing with drug crimes, assault charges, or even a death penalty case. Look for an attorney who gets to know you, and who believes in you. Whether you're innocent and fighting to prove it, or you've admitted to a mistake and you're ready to atone for it, your attorney's compassion will serve you well. He or she will go to battle on your behalf every day, believing that justice is the only acceptable answer for you.


The practice of law is not a robotic function. Each case, and each client, is different. Creativity allows great criminal defense attorneys to think beyond what was done in the last case, or in any cases before yours. “The best criminal defense attorney brings a fresh perspective to each case to search for new ways to apply evidence, analyze facts and witness statements and seek the best possible outcome,” said Attorney Jainchill.

From the preliminary hearing through the calling of defense witnesses to resolution, sentencing and plea bargaining, a good attorney should be willing to think outside the box, bringing a unique perspective on criminal trials to the entire process. When you are facing criminal charges, your defense attorney should be prepared with effective defenses, no matter what those defenses entail!

Don't underestimate the value of creativity in the practice of law – and search for the attorney who understands its value and brings it to your case as a new way of thinking.

When you're facing criminal charges in the United States, the criminal defense experience can be stressful and traumatic. Felony crime, drug charges, aggravated assault, misdemeanor offenses, any kind of criminal conduct ... the charges shouldn't matter to a top-notch criminal defense attorney. Their goal should be to protect you against criminal penalties, keep you from facing prison time, and guide you through the entire criminal process.

Aaron Jainchill and Bill Beckert, Attorneys-At-Law with the legal firm of Jainchill & Beckert, are incredibly successful in defending those accused of crimes across a wide variety of circumstances. They represent each of the traits outlined here. If you are searching for criminal representation, it is worth talking to Jainchill & Beckert to learn more about their criminal law experience, their success as criminal defense counsel, and the ethical, professional representation they can offer you. As the best criminal defense lawyers in Plainville, Bristol or West Hartford, Jainchill & Beckert offer a great place to start.

We invite you to learn more about us, hear from our clients or fill out our form and set up a free consultation with us. We're ready to fight for you, using our experience, negotiation and communication skills, passion, compassion and creativity to help you through this tough time in your life.