There are a lot of important qualities to look for when hiring a criminal defense lawyer. You want an attorney who truly cares about their clients. Its important for a criminal defense lawyer to have a strong and aggressive personality. Trust me, the government will literally run you over in a criminal case and not think twice about it if you let it. You absolutely want someone who is strong and willing to fight.
However, in my opinion, the most important thing to look for is an attorney who will be completely honest with his clients. For example, in the District of Columbia Superior Court almost all first offenders can get probation in DUI cases so long as nothing in the arrest triggers mandatory minimum jail time (for example, a breath score above .20 triggers mandatory minimum jail). If you walk into a DC DUI lawyer’s office having blown a .14 as a first offender with no other criminal history, no car accident, or other aggravating circumstances and he or she tells you that you could be facing serious jail time, walk out.
Its that simple: walk out. That DC criminal defense attorney uses knowledge of the criminal justice system to manipulate clients. What do I mean by that? If you are a first-offender and get arrested, you have absolutely no idea what to expect. You go to a lawyer expecting to find out what could happen to you. You want to know what the worst case scenario is, what the best case scenario, even what are some of the middle case scenarios. An honest DC DUI lawyer will tell you straight up. In this hypo, the likely worst case is you get convicted, one year supervised probation, alcohol classes, fines, loss of license, and higher insurance premiums—not significant jail time.