Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

What Makes a Good NYC Criminal Defense Attorney? Qualities to Look For

Finding the right criminal defense attorney in New York City can feel overwhelming. Your freedom, livelihood, and future are on the line, so you need someone who will fight tirelessly for you. But with so many lawyers to choose from, how do you know which one is up for the task?

We’ve compiled this guide on the top qualities to look for when hiring a NYC criminal lawyer. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor shoplifting charges or felony drug distribution charges, these credentials indicate an attorney who can handle even the most complex cases in the city’s tough court system.

1. Experience Handling Your Type of Criminal Charge

One of the first things you should look for is a New York criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience dealing specifically with charges like yours. Handling a DUI case requires vastly different skills and knowledge than defending a white collar embezzlement charge, for example.

Search for lawyer profiles on sites like Avvo, LawInfo, and FindLaw that spell out the specific types of crimes they have defended in the past. Their website bios should also highlight related experience.

2. Familiarity with Local Courts and Judges

The intricacies of New York’s courts and judges can be bewildering to those unfamiliar with the system. An experienced NYC criminal lawyer, however, has the inside scoop on the prosecutors, judges, and court staff you’ll be facing.

They understand the procedures in each borough and courtroom. They also know the tendencies of the judge and district attorney’s office and can use this insight to your advantage.

3. Trial Experience

While most criminal cases end in a plea deal, sometimes going to trial is in your best interest. Not all defense lawyers have significant courtroom experience, however. Be sure to ask specifically about the number of trials the lawyer has done in NYC.

An attorney who is comfortable arguing before a judge and jury will not easily back down at the prospect of trial. This tenacity often leads to better plea deals as well.

4. Negotiation Skills

Strong negotiation abilities can save you substantial prison time, fines, and fees. The ideal criminal defense lawyer knows how to leverage every aspect of your case to get charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

Pay attention to how they speak about negotiating with judges and district attorneys. Do they seem to take a cooperative or combative approach? Read online reviews to learn how previous clients felt about the deals the attorney secured.

5. Responsiveness

You need an advocate who makes you their top priority. This means responding to your calls, emails, and texts as quickly as possible, even on nights and weekends in urgent cases.

A lawyer with too large of a caseload won’t be able to provide the individual attention your defense deserves. During your initial consultation, note whether they are engaged, asking thoughtful questions, and focused solely on you.

6. Clear Communication Skills

Managing client expectations through clear, empathetic communication is key. The legal process is confusing under the best circumstances. You want a lawyer who can break down complicated issues in simple terms.

Make sure you understand precisely what the next steps are and what is expected of you. Ask them to walk through how the process usually unfolds for charges like yours so you know what to anticipate.

7. Affordable Fee Options

The average criminal defense attorney in New York City charges $250-$500 per hour. Yet legal fees vary widely depending on experience, demand, and case complexity. Meet with a few lawyers before deciding so you understand your options.

Many attorneys offer flat or fixed rates for certain services. Find out if they allow payment plans or take credit cards as well. Don’t choose an NYC lawyer purely on price, but do look for one that fits your budget.

How to Research NYC Criminal Defense Lawyers

Finding the best criminal lawyer in New York City for your unique situation takes some legwork. Here are a few tips:

  • Search lawyer directories like Avvo and for profiles, reviews, and disciplinary records.
  • Check the New York State Bar Association and American Bar Association for credentials.
  • Search for lawyers on legal sites like NOLO and Rocket Lawyer.
  • Ask friends and family for referrals to criminal lawyers they have used.
  • Read news stories about successfully defended criminal cases in NYC.

Schedule initial consultations with a few candidates to meet them and ask questions before deciding on representation. Being selective upfront ensures you have the right legal fighter on your side.

Facing criminal prosecution is frightening. But having an experienced, responsive, and dedicated NYC defense lawyer helps even the odds. Use these seven qualities to find the attorney best equipped to defend your case.


For more information, check out the following additional resources:

Delancey Street is here for you

Our team is available always to help you. Regardless of whether you need advice, or just want to run a scenario by us. We take pride in the fact our team loves working with our clients - and truly cares about their financial and mental wellbeing.

"Super fast, and super courteous, Delancey Street is amazing"
$500,000 MCA Restructured Over 3 Years
"Thanks for helping me in literally 24 hours"
$250,000 SBA Loan Offer in Compromise
"Great choice for business owners who need a trustworthy partner"
$350,000 MCA Restructured Over 2 Years

In The Media

Delancey Street CEO discusses ways to reward employees
Delancey Street CEO discusses the benefits of franchising on Forbes.
Delancey Street CEO discusses management on AMEX.
How Do I Stop Paying An MCA Advance

How Do I Stop Paying An MCA Merchant cash advances…

What Should I Do If OneMain Financial Is Taking Me to Court?

What Should I Do If OneMain Financial Is Taking Me…

How to Wind Down a Small Business With Too Much Debt

  How to Wind Down a Small Business With Too…

Coping With Debt-Related Marriage or Relationship Problems

  Coping With Debt-Related Marriage or Relationship Problems Money issues…

When Starting a Small Business to Pay Off Debt is Risky

When Starting a Small Business to Pay Off Debt is…

Delancey Street simply gets it. You're talking to experts.
Steven Norris
Get Help Today

Ready To Get Started?

If you have questions, feel free to shoot us an email, or fill out our live chat.

Schedule Consultation