In criminal cases, the stakes are high. Lives can literally be at stake. Families are often torn apart in the aftermath of a criminal conviction when a family member goes to prison. So, it is crucial to find and hire the best criminal lawyer for your case.

Finding the best criminal lawyer in Philadelphia is not a simple task. That’s because a lawyer may be the best lawyer for one type of case, while another lawyer may be the best lawyer for another type of case. Every case is different, and so finding the best lawyer depends on the type of case. Below are three tips to finding the best lawyer for your criminal case in Philadelphia:

1. Experience

Look for a lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours. Some lawyers handle specific types of cases and are therefore better at handling certain cases. For example, a lawyer who handles more traffic citations is naturally going to be better at handling traffic citations than capital murder cases. Therefore, it is important to ask the prospective lawyer about the types of cases they handle and results in other criminal cases.

Tip: Visit the Philadelphia court website to look up what kinds of cases the lawyer is currently handling. Click here to perform a Philadelphia criminal court docket search; you can enter the lawyer’s name. This will give you an idea of whether the lawyer actually handles criminal cases and what kinds of cases the lawyer handles. This is especially important in a major case with stiff penalties like prison or jail time on the line.

2. Reputation & Ethics

Check local bar associations for prior issues with the lawyer you are considering. The outcome of a criminal case can depend on the lawyer’s reputation with the prosecutor’s (DA) office and the judiciary. While there is no way to know this, it is a safe assumption that lawyers who have been the subject of bar investigations will also have bad reputations.

One issue you should look for is whether the prospective lawyer has ever been investigated for cheating clients, stealing money from clients or neglecting a matter. These are obvious red flags.

Tip: Call the local and state bar association and ask about the lawyer. Visit the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s website.

3. Internet

Be wary of making the decision to hire a lawyer based on what you see on the internet, such as internet ratings. While of course, you should use the internet to research a prospective lawyer, you should not rely solely on the internet and its many websites. Also be wary of endorsements from fellow lawyers. Some lawyers who receive high endorsements and ratings are in fact great lawyers.

However, the reality is that many lawyers who get high ratings and endorsements are average at best and certainly not as successful in getting favorable outcomes as other lawyers who are not rated or rated lower. That is because the better attorneys are spending their time getting the best results for their clients, by preparing cases and arguing in front of judges and juries. They do not have the time to work on the computer.

Tip: The best measure of an attorney’s skill and reputation is what former clients say about that lawyer. Look for real client reviews/testimonials from real people. Also be wary of fake reviews and testimonials. Look for a lawyer whose former clients would at least be willing to relate their experiences working with that lawyer.

Hiring a criminal lawyer is an incredibly important decision. Choosing the wrong lawyer for your case can result in a conviction. The last tip: do not allow a lawyer to rush the decision. You should always take the time to consider a lawyer before agreeing to pay a retainer.