In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that, under the Sixth Amendment, defendants have a right to the counsel of their choice.[1] Unfortunately, in many cases, many defendants don’t have much of a choice, at least from a financial perspective. These defendants often look to a court-appointed lawyer or state-funded public defender.

These options often aren’t available. Many Monroe County judges assume, rightly or wrongly, that if defendants can afford bail, they can also afford to hire a Rochester, NY, criminal defense attorney. Even if these options are available, they are usually poor options. Most court-appointed lawyers and public defenders are top-flight defense lawyers. However, that’s certainly not true in all cases. Defendants have no choice in these matters. They get whoever the judge assigns, whether the attorney is capable or not.

So, if you face criminal charges, you probably need a Rochester, NY criminal defense attorney. These charges are much too serious to face the problem alone or take your chances with a lawyer you do not know. An attorney does more than advocate for you. A Rochester, NY, criminal defense lawyer walks you through the entire process, from jail release to case resolution. No one can magically make everything better at this point. However, the right lawyer can help defendants, and their families, get through the criminal law process in one piece.

Criminal Law Focus

Many smaller towns in Monroe County only have a few lawyers. These attorneys usually handle all kinds of cases, from A to Z. Defendants in these communities could go with a designated criminal law attorney who has an office in downtown Rochester. But, as outlined below, that partnership is usually a bad idea. In these cases, a general practice lawyer is certainly better than no one.

However, if at all possible, your Rochester, NY, criminal defense attorney needs to be just that. This lawyer may differ from the one who handled your will or your cousin’s car wreck case.

By nature, civil law and criminal law are different. Most civil law attorneys focus on relationships. If Sarah needs a divorce lawyer somewhere down the road, she’ll most likely also need a child support enforcement lawyer and a parenting time modification lawyer. Criminal law attorneys focus on cases. Hopefully, a defendant’s first time through the system will also be a defendant’s last time through the system.

Of course, your attorney should give your case personal attention. However, criminal defense lawyers are always focused on the here and now as opposed to the future.

General Experience of a Rochester NY Criminal Defense Attorney

Additionally, civil attorneys usually have little practice experience. They may go to court and argue a motion a few times a year, but that’s about it. In contrast, designated defense lawyers often have ample experience. In fact, most defense lawyers are former prosecutors. This background not only gives a lawyer practice experience. It gives a lawyer valuable insight into how the other side thinks and acts.

Specific Experience

We mentioned the difference between civil and criminal practice above. Similarly, if you face felony charges, your lawyer should also have felony experience.

Generally, misdemeanor courts are more informal than felony courts. Additionally, felony punishment is much more severe than misdemeanor punishment. So, there’s more at stake.

During your initial consultation, ask questions like “what percentage of your practice is devoted to X (drug cases, DUIs, aggravated assaults, etc.)” and “can you tell me a little about the last drug, DUI, or assault case you handled.” Avoid lawyers who answer these questions evasively.

Some clients make a big deal out of lawyer specialization. Specialists have a little more training and experience than non-specialists, which is something to consider. However, this consideration shouldn’t override the other items on this list.

Bedside Manner

For the most part, we’ve focused on experience in this post, and rightly so. However, in searching for the right employee or the right lawyer, soft skills are almost as important as hard skills.

For an attorney, soft skills mean the lawyer speaks your language. Many attorneys are fluent in Legalese. Unfortunately, their English isn’t too good. During a consultation, if an attorney uses words you don’t understand and then treats you like an idiot when you ask for an explanation, head for the door.

Additionally, your lawyer should not treat your case like a number. The best attorney-client relationships are partnerships. If you don’t feel like a partner, keep looking. Plenty of choices are available. It’s up to you to make the right choice.

There’s a big difference between a criminal arrest and a criminal conviction. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced Rochester, NY criminal attorney. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.




The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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