If the mighty weight of the government ever descends upon you and you are charged with a crime, you will need the best attorney you can get. Here is what to look for in hiring a Utah criminal defense attorney.

Trial Experience Matters:

1. The number one quality a criminal defense attorney must have is trial experience.  Time in the courtroom at pretrial conferences, or arraignments are helpful, but are not the prime category to look for. The first question for your prospective attorney should be – “how many jury trials have you handled as first chair?” There is no magic number of jury trials you need under your belt, but at least ten.  Without the experience and ability to see the weakness in the prosecutor’s case and expose it at a jury trial, you are not in good hands.  

Relationships Matter:

2. A good criminal defense attorney must have good working relationship with the judges and prosecutors in order for you to get the best outcome. This is a people business. If you select an attorney who does not get along with a particular judge, that judge’s bias will flow over into your case. If your criminal defense attorney burned a prosecutor in the past, your case will get no favors.  Relationships take time.  New attorneys simple do not have them yet.

Knowing the Judge:

3. A good criminal defense attorney will know the judge’s habits intricately. In criminal defense, predicting what will occur at trial or sentencing is what you pay the big bucks for in a criminal defense attorney. The public defenders probably know the judge the best because they handle such a high volume of cases in their respective courts. But the problem with public defenders is often they will not have the time to prepare adequately for your case because they have too many cases.


Most criminal cases plead and do not go to trial.  When you select an attorney you need to select one who knows the process well, knows the people, and can try a case to a jury when needed. This generally only comes with years of experience.

If you wish to speak to a Utah Criminal Defense attorney, contact Howard, Lewis, & Petersen today.

Posted February 22nd, 2016