Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal Defense Lawyers
Ever since people started living as a group and in the form of larger communities, they always had some form of criminal law system. For decades the criminal law has been an integral part of modern societies as well to ensure justice for everyone. When a person commits a crime, he/she is subjected to a definite penalty but the human rights institutions of the country give convicted subjects a right to defend themselves in court. And that’s where the criminal defense lawyers come in, but people often overlook their importance in the betterment of society as a whole.
Criminal defense lawyers defend a person, organization, group, or institution that has been charged with a criminal offense. Criminal defense lawyers are also called public defenders because if you cannot afford to hire a criminal lawyer, the government can assign it to you for free.
Duties of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal defense lawyers help convicted criminals in defending themselves or reducing their punishment appointed by the court. They shape the case in such a way that the convicted person gets as little punishment as possible. Criminal defense lawyers work side by side with their clients and represent their clients in court by speaking on their behalf. Once they are hired by the clients, there are so many duties they perform to help their clients win the case, such as:
Interviewing the Client
The first duty of the criminal defense lawyers is to conduct a thorough interview with the client, which can either be a face-to-face meeting or a video/phone call. The nature of the interview with the client about the case depends greatly on how dangerous a criminal is. For the safety of the lawyer, he/she may not be comfortable meeting the client in person.
In the interview, the lawyer tries to obtain as much information about the case as possible by asking several strategic questions. The purpose of the interview is for the criminal lawyer to learn all about the facts and figures of the case.
Investigation and Gathering the Evidence
After gathering all the data from the client, the lawyer then uses his/her own sources to dig deep into the case. The investigation for the case is carried out by questioning several sources of information, such as eyewitnesses of the crime, the relatives and friends of the defendant, and the police department. Each of these sources may tell a different story but it’s the job of the lawyer to gather the strongest pieces of evidence and create a solid defense for the suspect.
For the investigation, the lawyer may also interview the eyewitnesses of the crime and prepare them for court representation. The lawyer can evaluate the case of the defendant before it has been presented to the jury. While doing so, the lawyer finds all kinds of evidence that can be used to protect the client. The evidence is completely tested and carefully studied by the lawyer before it can be submitted in court in front of the jury.
Communicating with The Client
The criminal lawyer has to stay connected with his/her client all the time to communicate the signs of progress of the case and evidence with them. The communication between the defendant and the lawyer has no third-party interference and the lawyer has a moral and professional duty to keep all the information confidential. The lawyers try to make their clients feel secure and connected so that they can get as much information out of them as possible. If the client changes his/her mind about something that has an exponential influence on the case, then the lawyer has to be present to take in all the facts and reshape the case accordingly.
Legal Proceedings of The Case
The criminal lawyers select the jury for the case of their defendant along with the negotiation process. The lawyer speaks on the behalf of the sentenced person and helps get a deal that is most favorable for that person. All the legal proceedings involving the presentation of evidence, cross-questioning the opponent’s witnesses and conceiving the jury to accept the deal using the witnesses provided.
If the judge has sentenced the convicted criminal, the criminal defense lawyers start working on further steps to reduce the sentence for their clients. The lawyer also presents other alternatives in front of the judge that can be used instead of the specified sentence, such alternatives are in favor of the defendant.
Skills Needed to Be A Successful Criminal Lawyer
To be a successful criminal defense lawyer, there are certain sets of skills that you need to develop. These are all the skills and abilities most criminal attorneys possess:
- Analytical: Criminal defense lawyers must have a strong analytical outlook on everything, to analyze the cases correctly. The ability to look into a matter and break down complex information into smaller bits and study them accordingly. Defense attorneys cannot go ahead with a case without analyzing every aspect of the case study.
- Research skills: The defense lawyer must have a stronghold on his/her research skills so that they can gather all the information about the legal rights of their clients. Sometimes, the lawyer may not be familiar with the unique case of some clients and therefore have to make their facts and figures straight before jumping into the case.
- Communication: The most important skill for a criminal lawyer is excellent communication. The whole job of a lawyer revolves around their skills to speak and convince the jury about a case, so how can a person be a good lawyer if their communication is not good. the greater the ability of a lawyer to argue and present the views of his/her client in front of the court, the greater their chances of winning are. Good communication also helps them during the interviews with the convict and the eyewitnesses.
- Investigation: Once the case has been presented to them, the lawyer must look into the situation and carry out the necessary investigation about the case. The investigation process involves finding the right evidence and eyewitnesses that are in favor of their client. The criminal lawyer who lacks investigative abilities cannot match the prosecuting attorney in defending his/her client.
- Writing: Along with oral communication, a lawyer is greatly benefited by his/her brilliant writing skills. In the court proceedings, nothing is just oral, everything from the case file to the final verdict of the judge is written and documented. So, it helps the lawyers a lot if they can convey their point effectively either written or orally.
- Interpersonal skills: To establish a relationship of trust and reliability with the client, the outstanding interpersonal skills of a criminal attorney are required. The convicted criminals can be very clever people, they can mold the truth and lead you astray. This is why being capable of understanding the other person effectively is crucial in criminal law.
- Legal experience: The thorough understanding of the state laws and in-depth legal knowledge about the case are what makes a criminal lawyer credible. The criminal lawyers must be able to navigate the jury and the legal system of the state proficiently.
Is the Salary of a Criminal Defense Lawyer Worth the Time and Training It Takes?
If you are planning on pursuing a criminal defense career in the future, you must ask yourself if the training and the education worth the living it provides. Here is a brief overview of the degree and certifications required to be a practicing criminal defense attorney and an estimate of the salary.
Education and Training
Criminal lawyers like in any other branch of law must have a bachelor’s degree after which they can get admission in the law degree. You can have a degree in any other field and still be able to become a criminal lawyer after finishing the Law Graduate Diploma.
After the completion of the law degree or the diploma, the criminal lawyers must have to pass their state bar examination test to start practicing in their state. The passing of the bar exam gives criminal lawyers a license to work professionally. A couple of organizations under the American Bar Association offer additional certifications that increase the credibility of a criminal attorney in the legal market.
Depending on where a criminal lawyer is working or the years of experience one has, the salary varies. The salaries of most public criminal defenders are usually lower than those working privately in different law firms. The experienced criminal lawyers working in prestigious law firms earn as much as $150, 600 annually.
Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About Criminal Defense Lawyers
Many of us know nothing more about criminal defense lawyers than what is shown in our movies and TV shows. Where a well-dressed attorney is just showing the judge some twisted pieces of evidence to prove the innocence of their clients. But in reality, there are so many interesting things that people need to know to understand the reality of criminal defense lawyers. Here is a list of such things:
Criminals Sometimes Seek Advice from Them Before They Commit an Offense
As strange as it may sound, it is true as many of the retired criminal defense lawyers have reported that their clients often reach out and ask about the consequences of doing such and such things. Being the criminal defense lawyers, they guide them about what and how much damage their actions can cause to them in the future in terms of legal proceedings.
Just because their clients ask doesn’t mean they counsel them or aid them in criminal activities of any sort. They are fully aware of their legal, professional, moral, and ethical duties as the forerunners of the legal system. All the advice they provide to such clients is within the boundaries of the legal system. And if after that the client commits a bigger crime that has nothing to do with the criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal Defense Lawyers Face A Lot of Public Hate
When a person commits a crime, everyone simply turns against that person and nobody likes to be on their side because of the fear of being called a criminal too. But imagine having to be on the side of every other criminal and then defending him/her as well in front of many people. The pressure and the hate criminal defense lawyers have to face because they are trying their best to free a convicted criminal is unmeasurable.
When someone has been sentenced for a crime, people, in general, do not want to hear their side of the story. That’s the reason those lawyers are hired so that the other side of the story can be presented to the public as well. Just because they are defending a criminal as part of their job doesn’t mean they are criminals too.
Defending the Innocent Is More Stressful
While many people think that it would be simpler to defend a persecuted person who is innocent rather than the one who is actually guilty of the crime. But for criminal defense lawyers, it is the other way around. For them protecting an innocent person is extremely stressful because if they fail the case, that person can end up in jail and they would be partly responsible for that. While they never wish for their clients to be punished; guilty or not, but for the innocent clients, it has an emotional toll on them as well a professional lack of ability of the lawyer.
Criminal Lawyers Pick Up Hints Before the Judge’s Decision
Criminal defense lawyers have a gift to assess the judge’s movement, body language, and tone to guess whether or not they are going to win the case. When both the attorneys are presenting their arguments and the judge beams, or laughs at something funny about the opponent or some joke by one of the attorneys, that attorney is most likely to win the case. That’s because the judges really focus on every small detail of the evidence and arguments and start making mental notes about their decision which can be read by the criminal defense lawyers.
Isn’t It Wrong of The Criminal Defense Lawyers to Defend the Convicts?
It is only natural that people consider someone supporting the offender equally guilty as the criminal himself. The same is the case with the criminal defense lawyers, in legal proceedings of the high-profile convicted criminals, people turn against the lawyers that are hired to represent them in the court. It’s because they ask themselves the same question we are about to answer; isn’t it wrong of the criminal defense lawyers to defend the convicts?
The answer is more inclined towards no, because of diverse reasons, the first and the most vital reason is that it is not the job of the lawyer to decide if the person is guilty or not, their concern is about how capable they are of defending someone who has hired them. Criminal defense lawyers must investigate, gather evidence, bargain, and defend their clients no matter who they are or what they have done. The decision about the crime is in the hands of the judges and the law enforcement departments and it is not something for a lawyer to be concerned about.
Factual Guilt Vs. Legal Guilt
Another more valid reason is the difference between factual guilt and legal guilt. The word guilty means committing a certain crime but in the legal trial guilty doesn’t always mean that the crime has been committed by that person. In the court, the decisions are made based on legal guilt rather than the factual guilt of the convict. Legal guilt means the extent to which the prosecutor can label the convict as a criminal without any doubt. So, one of the reasons the criminal defense lawyers defend the offenders is because nobody knows if the person committed the crime, they are being charged with.
It is quite possible in the legal court proceeding that a person has been wrongly accused of something he/she did not do. Such situations land people in positions with exaggerated charges. For instance, if a person committed robbery and at the same time a person in the street got shot by someone, and that criminal was charged for the murder along with the robbery just because he/she had a gun. In such situations, the criminal lawyers have to defend the person in question and help them reduce their punishment. There are many examples in our daily lives where people have been in jails for their entire lives for the crimes, they did not even commit in the first place. That’s the reason the criminal defense lawyers need to stand on the side of the convicts and help them defend themselves under the legal system.
Both Sides of The Coin
The motto of justice for all focuses on the reasoning that everyone should be allowed to defend themselves in court before accepting the charges levied on them. It is a basic right of the citizens to be able to prove themselves when they have been charged with something by the law, regardless of whether or not they are guilty. Looking at both sides of the coin can not be possible if we do not allow the convicted persons to defend themselves. Criminal defense lawyers become a mouthpiece for such people and give them a chance to prove their innocence in front of the jury.
What Is the Need of The Criminal Defense Lawyers in Our Society?
Just like criminal law has a deterrent role in society, all the members of the criminal law such as the attorneys are also needed by the citizens. When a person is charged with a penalty, the criminal system ensures that he/she has enough legal representation to be able to defend him/herself in court. And for the legal representation of the offenders, we need criminal lawyers. A person who has been accused of an offense is given a chance to defend himself through a criminal lawyer so that the justice system doesn’t put an innocent man behind the bars. Here are some other reasons we need criminal defense lawyers in our society:
- The criminal defense lawyers help the convicted persons to reduce their sentence. They are trained to offer deals to the jury that aid the case of their client in reducing their punishment. They speak on the behalf of the offenders and plea bargains for them in court. This not only helps the convicted to have a reduced sentence but can also be freed from any punishment at all.
- Innocent lives are saved due to the criminal lawyers, and justice prevails in society. As efficient and just a legal system may be, mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes a person may be wrongly accused of something, two possibilities are there; the person either accepts fate and spend life in prison or he/she can hire a lawyer to get freed. Criminal lawyers ensure that everyone has a right to represent and explain themselves in front of society instead of just being labeled as a criminal forever.
- Hiring a criminal lawyer protects people from the risk of being falsely accused or framed by someone. Having a criminal defense lawyer at the time of being charged with something you didn’t do is likely to soften the blow of the police and the legal system. The risk of your money held in the possession of police on your arrest and your DNA put on the government database is reduced if you have a criminal lawyer. Getting a lawyer after you have been charged with something is less efficient and fruitful than having a lawyer beforehand. The police interviews and the court hearings are made easier for someone who has no idea of how these things work if they have a criminal lawyer.
Different Categories of Criminal Offenses People Face
There are so many diverse types of criminal acts that can land people in jails for years and present the need for hiring criminal defense lawyers. A criminal defense lawyer may have a specialized category of the crime they deal in such as murder, rape, domestic violence, etc. There are so many kinds of crimes people commit but they are commonly divided into five major categories.
These crimes are the ones people commit when they break the legal or regulatory principles of society. All the rule violations for traffic, drug, and alcohol usage can be listed in this category. Everything that the legislation has prohibited is considered a regulatory crime. For instance, if the legislation has prohibited the use of alcohol in the parties and a person brings wine, she/she has committed a regulatory crime and can be punished for it. Here are some of the common criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella of regulatory crimes;
- Illegal production of the drugs
- Possession of drugs like cocaine, methenamine, and heroin, etc.
- Drug trafficking
- Illegal use of medicinal drugs like marijuana
- Driving after consuming alcohol
- Underage drinking and drug usage
- Selling drugs to the small children
- Owning and driving a vehicle without a driving license
- Driving with an expired license
- Hitting a person or a property with a vehicle
These are the most common kind of crimes that get people into jails. Personal crimes characterize criminal acts which involve harming another person physically and psychologically. All forms of physical violence including domestic violence and child abuse are included in the category of personal crime. From punching a person in the face to first-degree murder, criminal defense lawyers would be able to help you out in the court proceedings. Following offenses are included in the list of personal crimes:
- Putting someone’s property on fire (Arson)
- Physical assault
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Child molestation
- All kinds of rape
As the name indicates, incomplete or inchoate crimes are those crimes that have been left unfinished by the criminal but might lead to the beginning of yet another crime. Such crimes may be indirect and become the initiating force to another crime and involve more than one person. People are not found guilty as long as they complete that crime by taking some important steps. For example, if a person starts a conspiracy theory about another individual, company, or organization. Conspiracy against a person may or may not harm that person which is why it’s considered an incomplete crime. The punishment for incomplete crimes ranges from extremely severe to mildly severe according to the laws and the regulations of different states. These are the major types of incomplete crimes:
Property crimes refer to the criminal acts that involve damage to someone else’s property, be it their home, office, institute, shop, or organization. Property crimes usually include interfering with the property of a person to harm or destroy their property. The victim of a property crime is left with property loss, impairment, or complete deprivation of their property due to severe harm. These are the property crimes that need the convicted to get help from the criminal defense lawyers:
- Gunpoint robbery
- All forms of theft
The crimes committed using fraud, and trickery to illegally gain monetary benefits from a person or an organization are called financial crimes. Getting money from wrong and unlawful sources and the concealment of one’s resources in front of the government also come under the umbrella of financial crimes. People who have committed tax file offenses also hire criminal defense lawyers for their financial crimes. Examples of financial crimes are:
- Money laundering
- Tax concealment and evasion
- Funding to the terrorist organizations
- Fraud and embezzlement
- Bribery to the officials
- Corruption at any level
- Monetary theft
The Legal Process of a Criminal Case
In all the states of the US, the legal procedure for a criminal case is almost identical, initiating with an arrest and ending when the offender admits or bargains the penalty for the case. Here is a detailed process of what happens after a criminal is seized:
Any criminal process begins with the arrest of the person by the police. They can either arrest the person on spot by witnessing the crime, or someone might report to the police to arrest a certain person for an offense. After the arrest, the suspect is taken into the custody of the local police department.
The offender can get bail after paying a specific amount to the police only after the offender guarantees to appear in the court hearings on the given dates.
On appearing in the court for the first hearing, the judge examines the charges imposed on the offender. After which the offender can choose whether he/she accepts the penalties or he/she can plea bargain for the case. The judge then sets new dates for the hearing of the case following the decision of the defendant on the prosecution.
At this stage, the defendant can hire a criminal lawyer to carry on with the case or ask the court to provide him one if he cannot afford it. The criminal lawyer gathers all the information for the case and deals with the hearing and jury proceedings.
On the date of the final court hearing, the judge decides for the convicted criminal after reviewing the pieces of evidence provided by the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney. If the prosecutor must be able to prove the guilt of the defender beyond any doubt for his/her sentencing to be carried out. The judge makes the final decision after listening to the arguments between both attorneys.
If the judge finds the defendant guilty, he/she is sentenced and the right punishment for the charges is assigned to the case. After which the last resort for the defendant is to admit the punishment or make an appeal in the court to review or bargain further. If an appeal is made the process begins again from the jury hearings.