As an attorney listed on AVVO, I can tell you that they are not reliable. The ratings are based on information the attorney provides in their profile without much, if any, verification. As a result the ratings can be manipulated. Placement is also based on contributions to the site such as answering questions or providing articles. It may be a good start to finding a lawyer, but it should not be relied on as an absolute or completely reliable resource.
To answer the second part of your question, it would be difficult to evaluate defenses until you have the evidence from the prosecutor that supports their case. That is provided as part of discovery including police reports, witness statements, photographs, recordings physical evidence. Without that information, the strength or weaknesses of the case and the defense amounts to a great deal of speculation and guess work.
Certainly, some game plan to acquire evidence for defense can be taken at any point in the proceeding. It tends to be more focused and productive when you know what evidence is arrayed against you.
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