Best Criminal Defense Lawyers Houston, TX Of 2024 – Forbes

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A criminal defense lawyer represents individuals or entities (corporations) who have been accused of committing a crime. Their role is to represent individuals through the criminal process system and to advocate for their client. In addition, a criminal defense lawyer is responsible for providing their client with the best possible defense and ensuring they receive a fair trial.

As a part of their role to provide effective legal counsel, criminal defense lawyers will represent their clients in all pre-trial hearings, negotiations and trials. They will draft documents, interview witnesses and discuss legal strategy with their clients. They will advocate for their clients during the sentencing phase, and if necessary, help with the appeals process.

Public Defender vs. Private Criminal Attorney

The right to an attorney attaches as soon as you’re charged with a crime. The Sixth Amendment provides all individuals to the right of counsel even in misdemeanor cases.

Both public defenders and private criminal attorneys provide legal representation, but there are key differences between the two. Let’s take a look at the key differences and the pros and cons:


  • A public defender is usually for those individuals who can’t afford a private criminal attorney. You are assigned a public defender by the government after they have a chance to review your income, assets, and expenses and determine that you aren’t able to afford an attorney.
  • A private criminal attorney is selected by you. You can interview them and decide whether they are the right fit for you.


  • A public defender is chosen by the government, and the taxpayers cover the cost. You do not have to pay for a public defender.
  • A private criminal attorney’s costs are paid by you. The costs can be thousands of dollars, depending on the amount of work that’s required. Some require an hourly fee, retainer, or flat fee for their services.


  • A public defender is employed by the government, and they are required to represent all eligible clients in their jurisdiction. They often carry a heavier caseload and may have limited time for your case.
  • A private criminal attorney has the ability to pick and choose what cases they may take, so there is a higher likelihood that they will have the time to put into your case. If you detect that they may not have time for your case, you can choose another attorney.

Resources and Support

  • A public defender may not have the resources or support to conduct their own investigations. They rely on a government budget for their funding.
  • A private criminal attorney will have the resources to conduct their own investigations and find expert witnesses, as well as have the support staff to aid in your defense.

Should You Represent Yourself In a Criminal Case?

You can always represent yourself in a legal case, but this comes with several risks. The legal system is complicated to navigate and, without a background understanding of the law, it can be difficult to understand all the rules, procedures and evidentiary requirements that can impact your case. Without legal training, it will likely prove difficult to understand the intricacies of the judicial system. In addition, because you are representing yourself, you may find it difficult to control your emotions and you may inhibit yourself from making the best decisions in the legal process.

Lawyers have access to legal resources that you will not necessarily be able to benefit from and this can be a disadvantage as you work through your case on your own. Also, making legal mistakes and missing deadlines will not work to your advantage. Negotiations may stall because your local prosecutors may not take you seriously or could find ways to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the process. A conviction has lifelong consequences for your personal and financial future, so representing yourself may cause irreparable harm to your employment and well-being.

Although it may initially seem tempting to represent yourself because it costs subsequently less than hiring a lawyer, there are certain circumstances where it is not recommended to advocate for yourself. Most individuals convicted of crimes strongly benefit from hiring legal counsel or, at a minimum, seeking legal advice about their case.

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