Often the hardest part of having a run-in with the law is finding an experienced criminal defense attorney who you can trust, who will do right by you, and who will be an advocate for your needs. When being charged with a criminal offense, this is also one of the most important parts of resolving your situation. Even though time is of the essence, when you are facing criminal charges it is imperative that you find a reputable attorney whom you can trust. Below are the 8 top questions to ask when hiring an experienced NYC criminal defense attorney:


8 Key Questions to Ask when Hiring an experienced NYC Criminal Defense Attorney:

1. Do I need a Criminal Defense Attorney at all?

When facing a criminal charge, regardless of the severity, you should always seek legal advice. Whether or not you decide to hire a criminal defense lawyer should depend on the legal advice provided. It is advisable to research the charge you are faced with to better determine where you stand. Legal advice will then provide you with the information of what to do next. Below is a brief description of minor and major charges:

  • Minor ChargeThese will include misdemeanors, which are less serious charges, and include but are not limited to, shoplifting, public intoxication, vandalism and infractions, which are of the least serious charges. Think traffic offenses such as a speeding ticket which might add points on your license.
  • Major Charge: These include first-degree and second-degree felonies, which are the most serious charges. Murder, arson, robbery, fraud, leaving the scene of a crime, etc. We strongly suggest that you hire an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer if you are charged with a felony.

2. What does a good criminal defense lawyer do?

A criminal defense lawyer’s job is to represent persons who have been charged with criminal activity, or who have had a lawsuit filed against them. Your defense lawyer will be able to hone in on important pretrial issues associated with your case, and advise you on how to deal with them. From this point, your lawyer will make decisions on how to better your situation by possibly issuing a motion. They may even be able to have your case dismissed. This is where the experience comes in, as well as the attorney’s relationships within the court system with both the judge, the District Attorney or the prosecuting attorney if there is one. If your case goes to trial, your defense lawyer will continue to represent you, be an advocate for you, and see that the trial results positively for you.

3. Do I need a Federal Attorney or a State Attorney?

You will need to determine what type of defense attorney you need.

  • State Attorney: If you have broken state law, you will need to hire a state attorney as they will specialize in state law. Click here for a list of examples of state laws.
  • Federal Attorney: If you have broken federal law, you will need a federal attorney who understands, and specializes in this area. Click here for a more in-depth look at federal law examples.

The most important difference for you, the defendant, between breaking state and federal laws is that when you break a federal law, you are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office. A prosecutor from this office has more time and resources to dedicate to prosecuting the case, and so it is strongly advised that you have an experienced NYC criminal defense lawyer representing you.

4. How long has the lawyer practiced Criminal Law?

When interviewing a lawyer to determine whether or not you want them to defend you, make sure to ask questions to put yourself at ease. Ask the lawyer; “Where did you attend law school?”, and “When did you graduate?”. These are valid questions. You want a criminal defense lawyer who has a background in criminal defense, (not real estate), and who has cultivated their trial and litigation skills prior to representing you.

5. Will the lawyer I talk to actually be the lawyer who handles my case?

Many law firms will have you talk to an experienced lawyer at first, and then assign your case to a less experienced lawyer. If you are hiring a lawyer due to their experience and reputation you will want to ensure that this lawyer will be the one who in fact defends you. In smaller law firms, you will have a much better chance of knowing who exactly is going to be dealing with your case, and having interactions on a more personal level. At Carbonaro Law firm you will be talking directly to Joe Carbonaro- an experienced NYC criminal defense attorney- prior to taking on the case and be represented by Joe Carbonaro.

6. Is the Criminal Defense Lawyer local?

When choosing a criminal defense lawyer, you should always try to choose one that has the “home team advantage”. Meaning, you want a lawyer defending you who has past experience with your local laws, regulations, and general procedures. A local criminal defense lawyer will also know the police, and key people involved in your case, and will better be able to predict how they will behave in front of a jury. It also never hurts to have a lawyer who has won cases in the particular courthouse where you, the defendants’, case is forthcoming.

7. How do I evaluate my Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Experience?

Simply start with general questions. Ask them about their about background, education, philosophies, and areas of practice. Are they a criminal specialist or do they have a general practice? Ask about their court experience in the county, especially where you have charged with the crime. As we stated previously, a lawyer with local experience will be familiar with local procedures, the disposition of prosecutors, and how to handle their court schedules. Questions like these will get the ball rolling, and give you some insight into the lawyer.

8. Does the lawyer offer a free consultation?

Many don’t! Joe Carbonaro does. You will only pay him once you hire him.

For further questions about how to hire a criminal defense lawyer, or for a free consultation, please contact top NYC lawyer, Joe Carbonaro.