What Is a Criminal Defense Lawyer

What is a criminal defense lawyer? He or she is a legal professional who organizes a case in order to represent a client who is accused of a crime.

These crimes include sex, drug and violent offenses which are things that are not approved by society as seen in this country’s laws.

The job now of the criminal defense lawyer is to fight for the client by defending the client in open court in a jury of their peers. In some cases, this person is successful when the jury gives a verdict of not guilty. Other times, the jury will say that the accused is guilty.

If the jury does not have a unanimous decision, the judge has no choice but to call for a retrial. Should there by a mistake made in the trial such as the selection of the jury, the judge will say that it is a mistrial and once again, both sides will have to start over and present their case.

There are instances where the criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor don’t have to settle this matter in court. This may happen as both sides have an agreement and this is approved by the judge.

But how does this all happen? First, a crime has to be committed. Law enforcement authorities will then have to figure out what happen and if they have enough evidence, a suspect is arrested.

The person who is arrested has the right to remain silent during questioning until their lawyer is present. If the person cannot afford one, then a lawyer will be provided so even those who don’t have money will be properly represented.

The sixth amendment in the bill of rights state that anyone who is arrested has the right to a speedy trial and this has to be done where the crime was committed. After being arraigned, the criminal defense lawyer will now conduct an investigation by interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports and any other evidence that is related to the case.

The suspect that is charged with the crime can only be convicted if the case presented by the district attorney’s office is very convincing. This means that a criminal defense lawyer can get a not guilty verdict by putting holes into the defense of the prosecution. When this happens, the client is freed. Should things go the other away, the criminal defense lawyer can make an appeal to the higher court regarding the lower court’s conviction.

Can anyone become a criminal defense lawyer? A lot of experts say no because unlike other specializations in the practice, some find it very intimidating especially when the client that you have to represent is actually guilty of the crime. But given that you are that person’s attorney, it is your duty to defend the accused to the best of your ability from start to finish.

Given that crime of all sorts and nature occur, some have set up their own law firms that specialize in criminal law. Most who graduate from law school work for the government and are often referred to as “public defenders.”

How much you earn as a criminal defense lawyer varies. This depends mainly who your client is because if you are defending a millionaire, you can charge a lot for your legal fees while someone who doesn’t earn much will be able to only give how much is in their wallet.

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Selecting a Criminal Defense Lawyer

In basketball, they say that a good defense is the best offense. The same goes when you have to go to trial because your life is on the line and the only way to prevent yourself from going to jail is by selecting a criminal defense lawyer who will be able to represent you when the evidence is presented.

Criminal defense lawyers are a special breed of individuals because they specialize in criminal law. Some of these people represent those who are guilty and will do everything in their power to make sure their client does not go to jail.

But how do you select a criminal defense lawyer? For that, you have to find someone who specializes in this field. If you don’t know any, ask your friends or family for help.

When you see them for the first time, this is not a social call but business. You should ask them straight out how long has he or she practiced criminal law, the number of cases that went to trial and how many times have they won.

Do a background check on the criminal defense lawyer. Find out if they belong to any legal organizations like the County or State Bar Associations. If this person is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, then chances are you are already in good hands.

But since this is not enough, find out if they will have the time to work on your case because you could lose it if they are not able to provide a good defense.

You should also find out how much they charge for their legal fees and if they will be the one who will personally handle your case. If they are asking you for a large sum of money up front, leave the office and find someone else right away.

If you find the rate reasonable and feel comfortable talking to this person, then by all means hire this individual to be your criminal defense attorney.

Now discuss your case and then follow whatever instructions are given. This person should be able to explain to you how things will go and what they will do.

The ideal criminal defense lawyer is the public defender because this is what they do day in and day out. Although they usually get a bad rap, they are very experienced when it comes to going to court which is why they are often used as consultants by private attorneys. Some have even left and established their own firms specializing in criminal law.

Will this guarantee that you will win your day in court? Of course not. Nobody can guarantee that even if you can afford hiring a very rich attorney.

This all boils down to how well this person will be able to cast doubt on the evidence used by the prosecution because you will only get a guilty verdict if they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are indeed responsible for the crime.

Selecting a criminal defense lawyer is crucial because not be able to get a good defense will likely get you a guilty verdict. You can prevent that form happening since you are given time to look for one before you are arraigned and asked how do you plead in front of the judge.

How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you are arrested for a crime, the only thing that can only help get out of a jam is with the help of a criminal defense lawyer. You can choose who wants to represent you which shouldn’t be a problem if you have money but if you don’t, you will have to settle with whoever the court appoints for you. But for those who can hire one, here are a few tips to help you select a professional.

First, when you meet the criminal defense lawyer, you should ask how long has he or she been practicing criminal law and also how many cases did they win. Surely you don’t want to work with a lawyer who is fresh out of college or has never won a case. You also don’t want to work with someone who chooses to settle the matter out of court very often because you will probably get the shorter end of the stick when you decide to go for the plea bargain.

The more years of experience this person has, the better because this professional should already know the ins and outs of the judicial system. That person may have already dealt with the prosecution in the past and knows how to get a winning verdict.

You should also check if the lawyer that is representing you is certified Criminal attorney. This will save you the time of asking how long this person has been in the practice because getting such recognition means you have actively participated in 100 cases involving the taking of testimony.

Naturally, you have to be comfortable with the criminal defense lawyer who will be representing you in the case. He or she should be able to give you updates like when is the trial, what strategy will be used during trial and other matters that may help make the outcome go in your favor.

Since you are already in your office, be sure that the criminal defense lawyer you are speaking with will be the one who will actually defending you and not handed over to another person in the firm.

Given that the practice of criminal defense work is their bread and butter, you should also discuss the fee arrangements. Some lawyers charge a flat fee while others do it on an hourly basis. It is better to get a flat fee so you are not charged every time you have to consult your lawyer over the phone or in person. You should also find out if this already covers the case should this go to trial.

While the criminal defense lawyer will do their share to maintain your innocence, you should also do your share so this can happen. You do this by cooperating with them so they will be able to come up with a good defense.

The best criminal defense lawyer to get is the one who is experienced. After all, a criminal trial may last weeks or even months before a verdict is reached. This may cost you a great amount of money but if you get a not guilty verdict from the jury, it is surely worth every penny so you can move on with your life instead of spending the rest of it behind bars.

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The Criminal Defense Lawyer Association

Each state has its own criminal defense lawyer association. This organization sees to it that anyone who is accused of a crime is given fair representation in a court of law. They also do their share in protecting and strengthening the constitution, improving the administration of justice and promoting public awareness of the function and duties of criminal defense lawyers.

One way they are doing that is by offering legal services to those who cannot afford to hire a top notch lawyer. Some call them public defenders that will do their best to protect your rights.

Aside from providing their services to clients, they also have other activities such as conduct seminars for its members, raise money and offer scholarships. Each association is governed by a board which plans the events for the year that includes publishing newsletters, formal and informal networking and continuing legal education.

The criminal defense lawyer association through its members also lobbies and obtains information about new legislation as this affects their practice whenever they have to help a client in open court.

For those who are not yet members, all they have to do is fill up a form. Law students may already apply and after paying the membership fee, they will be able to access information about legal matters that are only available to members.

Apart from state criminal lawyer associations, there is a bigger one called the National Lawyer Association. What they do here is not that different from what they do on the state level.

As a member, you get assess to online research, virtual office opportunities, lawyer referral service, membership benefits and services as well as immediate leadership opportunities in legal sections and committees. The best part is that you don’t have to leave your state’s association to become a member in the national level.

The advantage of being a member of a criminal defense lawyer association is that anyone who wants to seek your services will no longer question your capability as a lawyer because you have already proven yourself among your colleagues.

How? By being granted membership into the organization which means they recognize you as an equal. What potential clients will likely ask now is how many cases have you won and how many times have you argued this in court.

When you talk to a client, tell them straight out they you cannot guarantee that you can win their case. What you can promise though is that you will do your best to help them get out of this mess.

So what should you do if you have a legal problem and have no idea who to call? The best thing to do will be to get the number of the criminal defense lawyer association in your state so you can get the name of a lawyer who can help you out.

If you can’t find it, look for it online because most of these have an official website with a list of their current members and their contact numbers. Initial consultation is usually free and if you are satisfied, then you should hire this person immediately so your legal woes will be straightened out. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about paying for high legal fees since this organization has ways of getting the necessary funds to pay for their members.

Life as a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Life as a criminal defense lawyer is not easy when your job is basically to help those who are arrested of a crime. While some of the clients you meet are innocent, many of them are guilty and have had previous run-ins with the law.

Since the law dictates that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and you decided to specialize in this field, you have to defend this person by putting up the best defense there is available.

There are various strategies you can use to get your client off. You can plead insanity or claim that someone else did the crime. If your client has something to offer, you can make a deal with the district attorney in exchange for the client being granted immunity.

But before you decide what cards to play, you have to talk to your client. If this person is in jail, you have to go there and ask what happened. You should already discuss whether to enter a guilty or not guilty plea because your client will be arraigned shortly.

When a trial date has been set, you can get a copy of the documents of the case from the district attorney’s office because by law, both sides are supposed to view everything from the police reports to the evidence.

You will also get a copy of the people the prosecution will be calling to the witness stand as they too will also be aware of that so there will be no surprises during trial.

When it is your turn to cross examine the witness, you should use whatever is available to cast doubt on their testimony because this is the only way that the jury may be convinced that your client is not capable of doing the crime. Using expert witnesses of your own is also helpful since they can dispute the claims of the other camp.

Before the jury will reach its verdict, you will have one last chance to state your client’s innocence when you are given the opportunity for your closing argument. When it is all over, you just have to wait for the decision of the court to take the next course of action.

Your client’s not guilty verdict means your job is done and you can move on and work with another client. A guilty verdict means you have to stay on as counsel for this individual and appeal the jury’s decision to a higher court so you can perhaps get a reversal.

The best way to win an appeal is to determine if there is something in the trial that shouldn’t have happened or was overlooked. These technicalities are better known as constitutional protections. For instance, the client’s confession was taken without the presence of a lawyer so whatever they said is inadmissible in court. The same goes if a search was done without a warrant.

There are many examples which you can use. You may even cite a case with similar circumstances because this serves as precedence to the one you are working on.

The life of a criminal defense lawyer is challenging no matter how many times you have been inside the court room. This is because you get to work with different clients each time since someone who was innocent can no longer be charged with the same offense because of the principle of double jeopardy.