Being charged with a crime can be a nerve-racking and terrifying experience, especially if you’re new to it. The Sixth Amendment guarantees your right to legal representation, but hiring your own criminal defense lawyers rather than relying on a public defender generally results in a higher positive outcome. However, making that decision, particularly under your current circumstances, can be an overwhelming task. We’re going to help you narrow down your options by telling you to keep an eye out for these three characteristics from your lineup of criminal defense lawyers.

The Local Advantage: Hiring an attorney that has experience in the courthouse where your case is pending will give you a home court (literally) advantage. The same laws may be in effect, but the procedures may vary from courthouse to courthouse. Local attorneys will know the behaviors and expectations of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and even judges, in addition to differences in policies compared to neighboring counties. Familiarity with the local people and ways of doing things can make a big difference during the process.

Experience with Crimes Charged: Modern law is so complex that most lawyers specialize in certain fields. It seems logical that, although they received the same generic education and took the bar exam, you wouldn’t want to hire a personal injury lawyer who focuses on car accidents to defend your drug possession charges or vice versa. It is absolutely acceptable to ask questions during your initial meeting to determine their experience in the field they’re going to be defending you in.

The Personal Factor: Last but not least, your lawyer should be someone that you trust, or that you’re personally comfortable with. Since they’re going to be speaking on your behalf, and you need to be at ease with sharing personal information. Though an attorney may come highly recommended (or with a high price tag), you should never sacrifice comfort: make sure that your lawyer sees you as a partner, not a case file.

If you ever find yourself in need of a criminal defense attorney, selecting one who meets these criteria can make a world of difference during every step of your case.