Whether you’re guilty of committing a criminal act or not, you may one day find yourself in need of an attorney to defend you against criminal charges. And depending on how serious the charges are (or how serious you are about winning), you’ll definitely want to do some research and find a law firm that not only specializes in criminal defense, but that has a lot of experience to recommend it. And there are several things you’ll want to consider before you select the firm that is right for you.

Here are just a few points to check off your list before you choose legal representation for your criminal defense.

  • The main thing to look for in a criminal defense attorney is an area of expertise.

Yes, criminal defense is already a specific branch of the legal profession. But within criminal law,┬áthere are all kinds of case types. For example, you could be involved in a fraud case. Or you might be facing arson charges. Perhaps you were caught with a massive stash of illegal firearms or enough drugs to land you with an “intent to distribute” charge. Grand theft auto is another type of criminal activity. You could be involved in violent crimes like assault, rape, or murder. Or you might be charged with kidnapping. And there are lawyers who specialize in these different types of criminal cases. You’ll want to find a law firm that offers the expertise you need to ensure the best possible defense.

  • It’s always a good idea to ask to see the credentials of any lawyer you plan to hire.

It’s not necessarily that an attorney from Harvard Law is going to provide a better defense than one with a degree from the Glendale College of Law, but one could certainly posit that the price of education and the institution attended to make a difference in access to educational resources. After all, the most brilliant law teachers are likely to opt for the salary offered by an Ivy League school. And of course, the level and prestige of education can definitely make a difference in how much you’re willing to pay for your attorney’s time.

  • The thing you’re probably most interested in is finding the law firm that has the best chance of winning your case.

So it’s important to consider the track record a firm or a particular attorney has with cases like yours. You may also be seeking a firm that has a reputation for honesty and integrity, but if you’re facing criminal charges you’re probably more concerned about avoiding jail time and other types of penalties.

  • Defense strategy.

The way your lawyer goes about planning your defense may be of some interest to you, especially if you’re asked to do something shady like lie under oath, for example. You need to feel comfortable with your attorney and the strategy for your defense, so it’s probably a good idea to discuss such details early on.

  • Legal advice.

In all likelihood, you are not an expert in criminal law. Otherwise, you would be defending yourself. The reason you hire a firm is that the lawyers on staff are uniquely equipped to handle your defense and provide you with the legal advice you need to get through the proceedings with an acquittal or the smallest possible penalty. So seek out a lawyer that offers you options but also advice on how to move forward. You’re going to need to find someone you trust to lead you in the right direction