What Makes A Good Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney?

Los Angeles is a unique city with its own quirks which can impact your criminal defense case. Learn how to choose the right attorney in LA.

The law is such a wonderfully infuriating thing. It can give you a sense of justice, or sully your life beyond recognition. The convoluted processes, excessively complex wording, and sheer force of the law will leave an indelible mark on whoever is (un)fortunate to have come into contact with it.  Long story short, if you find yourself subject to the long arm of the law due to criminal allegations, it’s imperative that you find yourself a criminal defense attorney, although not all criminal defense lawyers are created equal. Consider this against the diversity of a Los Angeles backdrop, and the requirements for what you need in an attorney are compounded again. Here, we take a look at what qualities you are going to need in a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. 

Willingness to travel

Los Angeles is America’s second most populated, and second most densely populated city. These factors, coupled with the city’s work-in-progress public transport network, mean that having your own vehicle (and being willing to use it) is essential for some criminal defense attorneys to reach their clients. This geographical reality is compounded by the fact that car ownership in Los Angeles is not universal. Despite having a bigger economy than the entire UK, California—and Los Angeles in particular—is home to a disproportionate amount of poorer people. This means that travelling lawyers in Los Angeles are more of a necessity than in most other American cities. 

Experience and knowledge

Los Angeles is an anomaly across all of the world’s cities. Sometimes, it feels like we’re living inside our own insular bubble that is influencing, rather than being influenced by, the rest of the world. These characteristics of the city are essential for your lawyer to be aware of. On top of adhering to the federal law, California has its own state law which differs from the rest of the country. Your lawyer needs to be intimately familiar with this in order to navigate the law for the best outcome in your trial.

At a minimum, this means they will have passed the bar exam which allows them to legally practice as a lawyer.  Like all professions, there are specific fields and subcategories in which people specialize. In this instance, it is expected that your lawyer is specialized in the field of criminal defense. This expertise will mean that they are aware of legal precedents and appropriate defenses for your case.  Ideally, this will be somebody with years of valuable experience. Hiring an inexperienced lawyer can hurt your case, and adversely affect your chance of freedom

Flexible fee payment for the duration of your case

A criminal defense case, or any case for that matter, can take a huge financial toll. This can be for the more obvious reason of legal fees, but also stems from the fact that many court cases are drawn out for much longer than intended. This then reduces your capacity to work and earn income during this time. 

Good criminal defense often includes trained lawyers, and highly efficient admin staff, all of which are sadly not cheap. Some firms will allow for flexible fee arrangements. This means that you will not be expected to pay your fees upfront, as is sometimes the case. Additionally, if your firm can fit a package of representation around your budget, this can give you the best shot of success within your financial means. 

Communication skills

Los Angeles is famous for its beautiful people and their cosmetic enhancement. However, regardless of how perfect your cheekbones are, this is not going to win you your day in court. In summary, you have to talk the talk. This is two-fold, relating to both your lawyer’s articulation of your case in court and communication with yourself (their client). When you have initial meetings with your (prospective) lawyer, make sure that they can effectively communicate complex legal jargon to you in a way that you can understand. This also includes things like plea options, relevant laws, and constitutional ramifications. If they can’t clearly explain these to you, then chances are they won’t be able to explain them to an audience of jurors either.  Additionally, communication is not solely about speaking, but listening too. They should be understanding of your situation, and able to competently respond to your queries, even though you are coming from a place of lesser legal experience. Remember, we can’t always know what our lawyer is thinking, but this doesn’t matter so long as they are saying the right things. 



Los Angeles is a city full of Hollywood elites, scandals, and paparazzi looking for their next scoop. The infrastructure to spread sensitive information at the drop of a hat is not only in place, but in constant motion. When it comes to your day in court, the last thing you need is your information getting out to the public.

Attorney-client privilege is a very real thing and needs to be observed at all times. The specifics of your case, whether sensitive or not, should be treated with the utmost care. 

Unsurprisingly, industries are often closely knit, and this means that most criminal defense lawyers will know other criminal defense lawyers. This is no excuse for being too liberal with the finer details of your case with an associate at a bar after work. 

Negotiation skills

The art of closing deals is crucial to any courtroom, although especially those within the district of Los Angeles. Interestingly, with so many hundreds of cases being tried every month, many of these will settle outside of court, sometimes before even entering the courtroom. This option can be looked upon favourably in some instances. By settling early and out of court, you are saving the state time and money, and it’s perceived to be a sign of good character when you admit partial or full responsibility before going to trial. This kind of deal gives you a lot of leverage, and it’s up to your lawyer to use this to their and your advantage as best as they can. They will need to negotiate and persuade the court to enter an agreement and push for the best possible outcome for your case. 

Navigating the legal system in Los Angeles brings its own set of quirks and nuances. When finding the right lawyer for the job, make sure that they can travel, have experience, are considerate of payment, able to communicate, respect confidentiality, and have strong negotiation skills. This will lead to the best possible outcome for your case. 

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