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  • Writer's pictureBrad Thornton

San Antonio Criminal Attorney: What is the most important question to ask when hiring a lawyer?

San Antonio Courtroom

When facing criminal charges, the stakes are high, and your choice of a defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. With so much riding on this decision, it's crucial to approach the selection process with careful consideration. As a criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, Texas, I understand the challenges and complexities individuals face when navigating the legal system. That's why I want to share with you the number one question you should ask when hiring a criminal defense attorney. This seemingly simple question holds the key to understanding an attorney's experience, abilities, and overall effectiveness in the courtroom. But first, we will look at the one question you should never ask. By arming yourself with the right questions and knowledge, you can make an informed decision that has the potential to shape the trajectory of your case.

The One Question You Should Never Ask

When you are interviewing or meeting with criminal defense attorneys to handle your case, the one question you should never ask is “Can you promise me a certain outcome?” More importantly, you should be leery of hiring anyone who does make a promise that he can promise to get your case dismissed or promises a not guilty verdict at trial.


When facing criminal charges, it's natural to seek reassurances and guarantees regarding the outcome of your case. However, it is important to understand that any attorney who promises a guaranteed dismissal is not acting ethically or responsibly. The legal system is complex, and outcomes are influenced by various factors, including evidence, witnesses, and the judge's interpretation of the law. Even if you think you told the attorney all of the facts he needs to give you that opinion, there is still tons of information he would need to review to give a realistic opinion. A reputable attorney will provide an honest and realistic assessment of your case based on their experience and legal knowledge, only after looking at all of the evidence in possession of the police.

Promising a dismissal without thoroughly examining the details of the case is not only unethical but also misleading. Every case is unique, and the outcome depends on a myriad of variables. Instead of making empty promises, a competent defense attorney will focus on understanding the facts, analyzing the evidence, and developing a strong defense strategy based on their expertise.

The One Question You Should Always Ask

When it comes to hiring a criminal defense attorney, there is one question that stands above the rest in terms of its significance: "How many trials do you have?" The number of trials an attorney has handled serves as a critical indicator of their experience, abilities, overall effectiveness in the courtroom, and knowledge of how to evaluate a case and accurately negotiate a plea deal if needed. By posing this question, you gain insights into an attorney's trial experience that can greatly impact the outcome of your case.

A high number of trials

An attorney with a high number of trials under their belt is an encouraging sign. I would say that a high number of jury trials is anything over 20. It indicates a wealth of experience, confidence, and comfort in the courtroom environment. Through their extensive trial experience, these attorneys have encountered a variety of legal scenarios adding to their ability to assess a case, honing their litigation skills, and become well-versed in how a case will likely play out in front of a jury

and what steps to take to get the best result.

Jury Trial

Furthermore, a high number of trials demonstrates an attorney's ability to handle complex legal proceedings effectively. They have likely encountered a range of legal challenges, allowing them to develop a deep understanding of trial strategies and tactics. This experience translates into an attorney who can craft persuasive arguments, skillfully cross-examine witnesses, and present compelling cases before judges and juries.

Importantly, trial experience enables an attorney to accurately assess the value of a case to a judge or jury. This knowledge is crucial in negotiating plea bargains or determining the most appropriate legal steps to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. Without firsthand trial experience, an attorney may lack the perspective to make these assessments and could compromise your defense.

A low number of trials

Conversely, an attorney with a low number of trials may raise concerns about their courtroom experience and their ability to effectively represent you. Personally, I would be concerned if an attorney had tried less than 10 cases to a jury. Limited exposure to trial proceedings could hinder their confidence and effectiveness in advocating for your rights and navigating the complexities of the courtroom.


A low number of trials also raises questions about an attorney's negotiation skills, willingness to take cases to trial when necessary, and even the possible fear of actually taking a case to trial. Effective negotiation requires a deep understanding of the potential trial outcomes and the ability to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case. Attorneys with minimal trial experience may struggle to negotiate effectively with the prosecution or accurately gauge how a case would likely unfold before a judge or jury.

Assessing whether an attorney's experience aligns with your specific needs is vital. Depending on the nature of your case, you may require an attorney with extensive trial experience or one who excels in negotiation and alternative dispute resolution. By considering an attorney's trial history, you can make an informed decision that best suits your unique circumstances.

How to Ensure You Are Getting an Experienced Attorney

When seeking an attorney with substantial trial experience, hiring a board-certified criminal attorney is one effective way to ensure their competence and expertise. Board certification is a rigorous process that attorneys must go through to demonstrate their exceptional skills and dedication to their practice.

San Antonio Board Certified in Criminal Law

Board certification is a voluntary designation that goes beyond the basic requirements of being a licensed attorney. Attorneys seeking board certification in criminal law must meet stringent criteria set by their jurisdiction's legal board. These requirements include:

Rigorous experience criteria: Attorneys must demonstrate a substantial involvement in criminal law, including a minimum number of trials and hearings, as well as a specified duration of practice in the field and double the amount of continuing education credits over what is normally required.

Evaluations and examinations: Board certification involves a full day examination substantially more rigorous than the criminal law section of the bar exam and peer evaluation by judges and other attorneys, which assess an attorney's knowledge, skills, and ethics in criminal defense.

By successfully meeting these demanding requirements, board-certified criminal attorneys demonstrate their commitment to excellence and their dedication to staying current with the evolving legal landscape.

Board-certified criminal attorneys have demonstrated a high level of legal knowledge and expertise in the courtroom. Their trial experience, combined with ongoing professional development, ensures they are well-versed in the latest laws, procedures, and strategies relevant to criminal defense. This expertise allows them to navigate your case effectively, craft persuasive arguments, and present compelling evidence before judges and juries.

By hiring a board-certified criminal attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are working with a legal professional who has proven their competence, expertise, and commitment to excellence in criminal defense.

San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Thornton

In conclusion, when it comes to hiring a criminal defense attorney, the question of "How many trials do you have?" stands as the most crucial inquiry you can make. Understanding an attorney's trial experience provides valuable insights into their abilities, confidence, and comfort in the courtroom, ultimately impacting the outcome of your case. By choosing an attorney with a high number of trials, you can benefit from their extensive experience, strategic approach, and familiarity with the complexities of trial proceedings.

San Antonio Lawyer Brad Thornton

As a criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, Texas, I am here to provide you with the exceptional legal representation you need. With a track record of having tried over 100 cases, I possess extensive trial experience that translates into a deep understanding of courtroom dynamics, trial strategies, and effective advocacy. My experience as a former chief prosecutor has given me unique insights into the criminal justice system, enabling me to anticipate the strategies employed by the prosecution and build robust defenses on behalf of my clients.

Furthermore, I am proud to be a board-certified criminal attorney, which demonstrates my commitment to excellence and the highest standards of legal practice. Board certification is not easily achieved, and it serves as an indicator of my competence, expertise, and dedication to providing exceptional criminal defense representation.

When you choose me as your attorney, you can trust that you are getting a seasoned professional who will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. I offer free consultations to discuss the specifics of your situation and provide you with an honest assessment of your legal options.

To schedule your free consultation, please call my office at 210-439-5627. I understand the challenges and complexities individuals face when dealing with criminal charges, and I am here to guide you through the legal process with compassion, skill, and unwavering dedication. Don't face your legal challenges alone—hire a proven advocate who will stand by your side every step of the way. Contact me today, and let's begin building a strong defense tailored to your unique needs.

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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.

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© 2023 by Thornton Criminal Defense, PLLC. 

Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

San Antonio Office:

111 Soledad, Suite 401

San Antonio, Texas 78205

Tel: 210-439-5627

Atascosa Office:

216 N Bryant St

Pleasanton, Texas 78064

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