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.