Finding the right criminal defense lawyer is not an easy task, in part because it is difficult to examine an attorney's overall track record. The traditional method of selecting a lawyer has been to rely on a referral from a family member or friend, because there are no publications that keep track of attorneys' overall won-loss records. You can try the phone book or a local television advertisement, but do you want to risk your freedom based on an attorney’s advertisement? Some basic research can help you find an attorney whose track record indicates he may be able to successfully represent you in court.
Go to your local criminal courthouse and ask for a listing of recent cases in which the attorney has represented a defendant. While many jurisdictions have case records online, that is not the case in every state or municipality.
File an open records request with the public defender's office or local court. If the attorney is a public defender, then his office has a duty to release information regarding every case he has defended while working there and even has to release performance reviews. If the attorney has worked as a court-appointed lawyer, then the court generally has the same duty to release any record related to his work for the court.
Call the local bar association and ask for the any records on file related to your attorney. The bar association will have information on disciplinary actions and complaints filed by prior clients.
Jessica McFall began writing professionally in 2011. She has authored legal briefs as a paralegal, specializing in insurance law and related litigation. McFall earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Cleveland State University.