Hiring a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Please keep in mind, these are just considerations and there is no single rule for which lawyer will be best for your case. Defending federal criminal cases can be very expensive and for most, money will play a significant role in your decision. This is often where you can make the biggest mistake, so do your homework and trust your instincts.

If you’ve been subpoenaed, indicted, or you’re under investigation, you need to find and hire the right lawyer to provide the best guidance and counsel. If this is your first time dealing with the justice system, it is normal to be nervous about how you make the decision to hire a lawyer.  Criminal charges can be terrifying, and convictions can have an effect on you for the rest of your life. This article is designed to help you and your family look for and hire the right person or firm in your state.

If you have been charged with a serious state or federal crime in Southern California-Contact us now for a free consultation.

Businesspeople Discussing In Office

Hiring the Right Attorney​

Obviously, you don’t want your business or divorce attorney representing you when the US government comes after your freedom. In the same vein, make sure you don’t hire a state criminal defense attorney who mostly handles DUI’s for a federal drug trafficking or white-collar criminal case.

Most good lawyers won’t take a case they have no business taking and will try to provide referrals where possible. On the other hand, it is your money, and it is up to you to make sure the lawyer you’re hiring knows what they’re doing. Conversely, you don’t need a federal criminal defense firm to represent you for your traffic tickets. Knowing where and how to spend your resources is the most important decision you will make in these situations.

At the same time, don’t get too specific, there are more than 4,000 federal criminal statutes, what matters is whether the person has experience in the forum you’ll be in, has handled investigations against federal prosecutors or federal agencies, and understands the process you’re going through. A good lawyer who has handled a complex federal criminal case can generally be trusted to handle any type of federal criminal case. Complex white-collar crimes involving large organizations or long-term financial investigations and death penalty cases would be the exceptions.

San Diego County prosecutes around 40,000 state criminal cases a year while the US Southern District of California prosecutes around 3,000.  This means that you will run into many criminal defense attorneys that have no experience in federal court. Virtually, all federal criminal defense attorneys will take serious state cases and have experience in local state courts.

Personality | No matter how much we talk about our educational achievements or degrees, the single biggest truth you should remember is that the criminal defense business is a people business. 97% of all federal cases and 93% of all state case settle before trial and that means, all things being equal, the attorney who is the best, most effective communicator is usually going to “win.” Negotiation, persuasion, advocacy, analysis, and knowing when to get aggressive are essential elements but how do you judge these skills?

Once you are sitting in front of an experienced attorney you want to ask them difficult questions. The ability to be direct and honest is essential for a healthy relationship between a client, their family, and defense counsel. Ultimately when you make your decision you are going to have to rely on your intuition. Experience, knowledge, and the ability or inclination to go to war against the government should be your minimum expectation. Securing counsel who has all these things AND is personable and charismatic might be your challenge, depending on the district you have been charged in.

Communication Skills | Convincing the government that they are wrong can take a lot of effort and persuasion, but you also want to think of your prospective lawyer in the terms of how they will treat you once they have been hired. Often the single biggest complaint that any type of attorney hears is that they are not available by phone or take too long to return calls.

Good criminal attorneys are very busy and often in court or situations that can make it difficult to immediately return calls or even texts.

On the other hand, satisfied clients have access to their criminal defense attorneys when they need them. The stress can be overwhelming and at the BDN we believe this level of access is essential for you and your loved ones. Our philosophy is simple, we try to treat our client’s and their family or friends exactly how we would want to be treated.

Aside from keeping you out of prison, keeping you informed and remaining accessible to our clients is one of our highest priorities.

Integrity | While this is a business, you don’t want to hire an attorney that makes you feel like just another number. Honesty is essential, and you don’t ever want to feel like you are getting hustled by your own attorney or that they don’t care. Also, never trust anyone that promises a specific result to get you to hire them-no one can guarantee ANYTHING in this business other than the US Government has the upper hand and all the money in the world to make you pay if they choose to.

If after your first meeting, you have some hesitancy, talk to someone else. Attorneys that care about their work and clients are also going to show a lot of concern and care for your loved ones. This just isn’t out of kindness; it is strategically smart. Your family, employer, friends etc. can all be valuable resources in defending and mitigating punishment in federal and state sentencing.

Clearly this is strictly our opinion, shaped by our experiences and our perceptions, but if you need to hire an attorney like the person we just describe-contact the attorneys at the Border Defense Network now for a free consultation and give us the opportunity to show you how we work with our clients.


Attorneys at the Border Defense Network are determined to help those in need of Federal Crimes representation. Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch.

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600 West Broadway, #700,
San Diego, CA 92101

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