What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney and When Do You Need One?
At some point throughout the course of your life, you’ve likely heard the term “criminal defense attorney.” However, just because you’ve heard the term doesn’t mean that you understand it. After all, there are so many different types of attorneys out there that it can be difficult to keep track of their varying responsibilities.
So, what is a criminal defense attorney? What does a defense attorney do? When do you need one?
You can find the answers to all these questions and more by reading below!
What is a Defense Attorney?
A defense attorney is a specific type of attorney who defends criminally charged individuals in a court of law. Defendants charged with a crime either hire a defense attorney themselves or have an attorney appointed to them by the court system.
While some defense attorneys are generalists who will take on any type of court case, many defense attorneys have specializations. For example, a defense attorney might specialize in defending those charged with homicide.
Defense Lawyer Responsibilities
Defense lawyers have a number of responsibilities to which they must attend. These responsibilities take place both in and out of court. They are as follows:
Speak With Client About His or Her Case
Whether a defense lawyer is a public defender or works independently, their first responsibility is to discuss their client’s case. Generally, this discussion happens in-person through an interview process.
The attorney will ask the client relevant questions about the case. This helps them get important information and use that information to form a defense. During this process, it’s vital that the client answers questions as truthfully as possible. If a defense attorney receives inaccurate or misleading information, he or she will struggle to create a thorough defense.
Investigate the Case
When it comes to researching the case, interviewing the client is only the tip of the iceberg. Defense lawyers must perform an extensive investigation. This involves speaking to police officers, witnesses, and experts.
In addition to this, the defense lawyer will also review the case drawn up by the prosecution. The prosecution is legally required to submit its case to the defense before the trial begins. This procedure allows the defense an opportunity to build a case against the accusations.
After gathering witness and police statements, the defense attorney will turn to the evidence involved in the case. He or she will examine this evidence thoroughly, trying to figure out how it will affect the trial and the perceptions of jurors.
In some cases, he or she will have this evidence tested by an independent entity to figure out whether it can help or hurt the defendant’s case.
Select the Jury
Next, the jury selection process will begin. Defense attorneys have a large role in this process, interviewing prospective jurors to determine whether they have any biases against the defendant.
This process is important to the outcome of the trial. By working to pick and choose desired jurors, a defense attorney can increase his or her client’s chances of a successful trial outcome. Due to its importance, seasoned lawyers will often hire juror selection specialists to help them with this task.
Engage in the Plea Bargaining Process
In some circumstances, prosecutors will grant defendants a lenient sentence in exchange for their cooperation or admission of guilt. For example, let’s say a defendant has vital information about a wanted individual. He or she might be able to provide that information in exchange for a reduced sentence.
This process is plea bargaining, and it is a negotiation between the prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys. A talented defense attorney will often be able to strike up a deal for his or her client. This deal often results in less prison time, smaller fines, and similarly reduced sentences.
Act as the Client’s Representative in Court
Once the defendant’s trial begins, his or her defense lawyer will act as his or her representation. This includes arguing on his or her behalf and acting as his or her legal voice in the courtroom.
While in court, defense lawyers will hear testimonies, speak to jurors, and cross-examine witnesses and experts. This is all done in an effort to sway the jury’s opinion toward the side of the client.
In the event that the defendant receives a guilty verdict, the defense attorney will act as the representative at the sentencing hearing. This is the hearing in which the judge administers a punishment.
Defense lawyers speak to the judge, doing everything in their power to limit the severity of the sentence handed down. While a good criminal attorney won’t always get a sentence reduced, he or she provides the best chance of doing so. If you lose your case you can always hire a civil appeals attorney.
When Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Generally, it’s recommended that you hire a criminal defense attorney whenever charged with a crime. In some cases, you’ll also want to use the services of a defense lawyer when you’re questioned by police.
All types of crimes, both misdemeanors and felonies, can result in harsh punishments. These punishments include lofty fines and lengthy prison sentences, meaning that you should avoid them at all costs.
An experienced defense attorney knows the ins and outs of arguing in a court case, giving you your best chance of a successful outcome. Whether you’re charged with drug possession, sexual assault, or manslaughter, a defense attorney can help you.
Find a Suitable Defense Attorney Now
Are you facing criminal charges? Looking for a suitable defense attorney to represent you in a court of law? If so, our website can help you.
Halt is a legal directory designed to connect individuals with the appropriate lawyers. Regardless of the charge that’s levied against you, our directory will help you to find an attorney suitable for your case.
Protect yourself and search for an attorney now!