Not all Virginia criminal defense lawyers are alike. Attorney Gretchen Taylor Pousson of Scrofano Law advises on hiring a Virginia criminal defense lawyer.

Finding a Suitable Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Case

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve been arrested, and are figuring out what to do next. You’ve probably gone to google (or maybe Bing, but that seems unlikely), and searched for “Virginia criminal defense lawyer,” “Virginia DUI lawyer,” or “Virginia prostitution lawyer,” etc.

Chances are, pages and pages of lawyers have been generated by your search, and you have no idea where to start. Ratings and reviews are nice, but almost never tell the whole story. The lawyers’ websites probably have blogs and articles about the crime you’ve been charged with, but not much about the lawyer. But after some looking around, you may decide to call one, two, or three of the Virginia criminal defense lawyers you find. And now the fun starts.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

When choosing which criminal attorney should represent you in your criminal case, it’s crucial to consider several facts.

First of all, you should retain the services of a lawyer who is specialized in criminal law. Although you may have worked with an amazing attorney when drafting your will, in most cases, they won’t have the necessary knowledge to defend you if you are facing criminal charges.

Also, make sure your criminal lawyer is experienced with the local court system, possesses adequate trial experience, and can participate in plea bargaining if necessary.

Answering all your questions as the criminal case progresses is also something you should consider.

Is It Better to Hire a Public Defender or a Law Firm?

Although there are good public defenders, hiring a private law firm may be a better idea. Public defenders who work for the Public Defender Service often have huge caseloads and not enough time or resources to dedicate to your case as a law firm does.

Virginia Criminal defense attorneys in private practices typically have more time and incentive to dedicate themselves to your case. In most cases, they can provide a higher level of attention and have the ability to be more responsive.

Should I Meet With My Prospective Defense Attorney In Person?

Many clients who call me have a hundred questions, and want them all answered over the phone. You’ll find that most lawyers, like me, prefer not to do client consultations this way. There are several reasons.

First, criminal cases have a lot of facts, and we want to hear all of them, and probably take notes. Trying to listen and take notes over the telephone can be difficult, and unclear connections make things even harder.

Second, lawyers generally do not run free legal advice hotlines. Many of us offer consultations, but this offer assumes that the person seeking our advice is serious about hiring legal representation. A person who can’t be bothered to come into my office and sit down with me for half an hour probably isn’t that serious about hiring me. They want free advice, but the reality is that free advice doesn’t pay the office rent.

But the third and most important reason that I don’t do phone consultations is that I don’t want you to hire me before you’ve come into my office, shook my hand, and decided whether you trust me. Hiring a criminal defense attorney could be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Whether you face a misdemeanor like DUI or solicitation of prostitution, or a more serious felony, the result achieved in your case will have a lasting impact on your life. That result, whatever it is, will be achieved by you and your lawyer working together to make the important decisions that every criminal case requires.

Which Criminal Defense Lawyer in Virginia Should You Hire?

My advice on hiring a criminal defense attorney in northern Virginia is not to hire a lawyer because they have the fanciest website. Or because they are the cheapest or the most expensive (yes, some people take comfort in being charged top dollar). Hire a Virginia criminal lawyer who you think you can trust. Because you will be on a long, bumpy ride together.

When you sit across from me in my office, I’m going to tell you what to expect. I’ll tell you the chances of beating your case, the punishment you are probably looking at if convicted, and all the things I’m going to do on your case if you hire me. But what I tell you doesn’t mean anything if you don’t trust me. You have to trust that your criminal defense lawyer knows what he’s talking about and is going to put his full effort behind your case. You have to trust that when he tells you your chances of winning at trial are good or bad, that estimate is based on knowledge and experience.


If you have been charged with a state or federal crime in Arlington, Alexandria, or Fairfax, contact Gretchen Taylor Pousson at Scrofano Law PC for a free in-office consultation.