When you are facing criminal charges, you have a constitutional right to an attorney. Do not attempt to beat the charges on your own—the legal system and the courts can be complex and difficult to navigate.

Hiring the right criminal defense attorney is an important decision that can severely impact the outcome of your case.  You should always do your research and find a strong, competent attorney to fight on your behalf.

But how do you know if you have hired an attorney who is best for your case?


If your criminal defense attorney does not seem competent to handle your case, trust your instincts.A good criminal defense attorney who is experienced and able to defend your case will be confident and knowledgeable. Conduct of an incompetent attorney may be similar to the following:

  • Inability to thoroughly and patiently answer your questions
  • Lack of experience in cases such as yours
  • Always running late or forgetting obligations and meetings
  • Seeming to be erratic or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A willingness to be dishonest or cut corners

Any of the aforementioned issues indicates you have probably hired a bad criminal defense attorney. These are all warnings that you should heed and seek another attorney to represent you in your case.

Standing with the Bar


If the attorney you have hired or are considering hiring has lost his or her license to practice law or is not in good standing with the Ohio Bar, there is a possibility he or she has been in violation of ethics rules. Ethics rules are largely based on matters of honesty and professionalism. These are qualities you cannot afford to skimp on when selecting an attorney. There are many good lawyers out there, so do not risk your case with one who has been disciplined by the Bar.

Lack of Communication

Lack of communication is a major red flag that you have hired a bad criminal defense attorney. If your attorney takes especially long to reply to your telephone calls, texts, or emails, they are demonstrating that they do not consider your case a priority and are not particularly invested. Another reason they may be dodging your attempts to communicate could be that they have not completed certain tasks and do not want to be held to account.

Ineffective communication can also result in the attorney making major decisions in your case without consulting with you beforehand. This behavior is unacceptable and constitutes a disregard for your input. Every significant decision should be approved by the client.

Your lawyer should be affirmatively reaching out to you to keep you informed on the progress of your case, as well as requesting feedback and making themselves available to you for any questions you may have. Do not settle for getting the runaround.

Lack of Interest

Some lawyers will seem invested, even excited about your case, but their enthusiasm fades and they lose interest shortly after being hired. This is an unfortunate trick on the part of bad criminal defense attorneys. They take your money, fail to investigate, neglect to build you a solid defense case, and let the prosecution decide your fate.

Questionable Financial Behavior

Good criminal defense attorneys are clear about what it will cost you to hire them. They ensure all terms are agreed upon in writing, and they provide you with a written retainer. Bad criminal defense attorneys can be unclear, or even deceitful, in their billing practices. They will often inflate charges, charging you unfairly for their services.

Examples of this include:

  • Excessive Fees
  • Charging Overhead Expenses
  • Padding Hours

If you ask about unclear charges and do not receive a satisfactory response, you have hired a bad criminal defense attorney.

Pushing You to Plead Guilty

Plea deals can be a reasonable option and are something to at least consider. This is certainly true when there’s a lot of evidence stacked against you in a case involving sex crimes or homicide.

However, bad attorneys think of a plea deal as a quick resolution that wraps up your case. Taking a plea should be a result that comes after thoroughly exploring all other options. Attorneys who push you to plead guilty too soon may not have your best interests in mind and may not be doing everything possible to fight on your behalf.

False Advertising

A lawyer’s website may falsely claim the lawyer has decades of experience in criminal defense or has handled cases involving the specific crime with which you have been charged. Experience is very important, so you should do your due diligence in making sure your attorney has the background, qualifications, and experience you need.

Promising Specific Results

In an effort to get hired, some attorneys may promise to get your charges dropped or other specific results. That is a red flag. Attorneys should never guarantee a positive outcome because they do not have that kind of control.

They should only make clear that they will work hard on your behalf and do everything they can for you. It is unethical for lawyers to make any promises about results. If they do this, it means they are willing to violate ethics rules by telling you what you want to hear.

Trust Your Instincts

Good criminal defense attorneys are demonstrably competent, knowledgeable, experienced, and work to earn your trust. Upon taking your case, they will thoroughly review all available evidence and work with you to identify the most effective defense strategy.

At James D. Owen, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys are thoroughly invested in your case and will do everything we can to obtain the best outcome for you. We will keep you informed throughout every step of the legal process, and always prepare you for what you can expect.

If a conviction is unavoidable, we will negotiate with the prosecution to get you an advantageous plea deal. We understand the importance of your case and provide excellent representation accordingly. Call us today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.