Can a criminal defense lawyer guarantee the outcome of my case?

Hiring an attorney is expensive. Just as you would before making any big purchase, it is natural to shop around to ensure you get the best attorney you can afford. The best criminal defense attorney is the one that is going to deliver the best possible outcome of your case – so an attorney should be able to guarantee that outcome before you hand over those costly attorney fees, right?


Attorneys are ethically barred from making promises or guarantees about the outcome of a case. While it may seem unfair to pay for legal services without knowing exactly what you will get for your money, the Code of Professional Ethics sets rules for the practice of law to ensure your rights, the legal process, and the interest of justice is protected. If attorneys could promise results, their conduct could lead to deceptive and dishonest behaviors to ensure the promised outcome could be delivered. 

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may be familiar with a particular judge or prosecutor and feel they know how your case will go. However, many factors play into the outcome of a criminal case. The law is constantly evolving, and the outcome of the case will consider the law, the facts of your case, evidence, witness, testimony, and much more. Just because a prosecutor has offered a specific plea deal for a similar case in the past or because the judge ruled a certain way in another case does not mean your case will be handled the same way.

While your attorney cannot guarantee an outcome for your case, you should feel confident that your attorney has the experience, education, and knowledge to deliver exceptional legal representation. You should be informed, every step of the legal process. Though you may not know with certainty what the outcome of your case will be, your attorney can offer an opinion as to what he or she thinks will happen, what plea deals the prosecutor may be willing to consider, and how the judge or jury will decide.