A criminal defense lawyer is one of the most recognizable types of lawyers out there. TV shows often romanticize them, and people certainly associate the term “lawyer” with the criminal defense field, but few recognize how important the criminal defense lawyer is. A criminal defense lawyer has the difficult job of representing people who are accused of a crime, and making sure they get a fair and just trial. It is up to the criminal defense lawyer to create an argument and defend the accused against charges brought up by courts that want to punish. Through whatever legal means possible, the criminal defense lawyer must make sure justice is served by his or her client, no matter what the charges are, or how much evidence is presented.

A criminal defense lawyer is one of the most recognizable types of lawyers out there. TV shows often romanticize them, and people certainly associate the term “lawyer” with the criminal defense field, but few recognize how important the criminal defense lawyer is. A criminal defense lawyer has the difficult job of representing people who are accused of a crime, and making sure they get a fair and just trial. It is up to the criminal defense lawyer to create an argument and defend the accused against charges brought up by courts that want to punish. Through whatever legal means possible, the criminal defense lawyer must make sure justice is served by his or her client, no matter what the charges are, or how much evidence is presented.

The Difficulties of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Though the legal system may seem tipped in the favor of the defendant, it is still a difficult task to put up a credible defense of someone accused of a crime. The prosecution has spent a lot of time and money building a case against the defendant, and only brings a case against him or her when they feel they have enough for a conviction. The criminal defense lawyer almost has a “work in the dark approach” as he or she cannot ask the defendant about guilt or innocence, and cannot put anyone on the stand he or she knows to be lying. The guidelines around a criminal defense lawyer are strict and complex.

The criminal defense lawyer is the lawyer who must have the most experience in theatrics as well, putting on a competent, credible show to the jury on behalf of his client. While it may look the most interesting and fun, the criminal defense lawyer puts a tremendous amount of work into every case, knowing that he or she is often times the last hope a defendant has.

Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers defend a person charged with a misdemeanor or a felony—a crime. Not all criminal cases require a trial. The law classifies a crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with a felony being the more serious of the two. Generally, a felony is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year, while a misdemeanor carries a jail term of less than one year. A felony usually results in loss of rights: the right to vote, the right to hold certain types of licenses. Often, jurisdictions with “three-strikes” laws apply only felony convictions to that law.

Sometimes the prosecutor and the criminal lawyer reach a plea agreement before the trial date. If the two sides reach a plea agreement, in most states, the defendant simply appears in court and allocutes, that is, recites the facts of the crime. Then, the judge usually passes the negotiated sentence.

Your Miranda Rights

If the police detain you, you have a number of rights, called Miranda rights. The officer must read Miranda rights after taking you into custody and before interrogating you. The law does not state the exact words which must be read to you, and each jurisdiction can create its own version of the rights. Regardless of the wording, Miranda rights encompass four main points:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you.
  • You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning (present and future questioning—any questioning).
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed free of charge.

There are two important things to know about Miranda rights:

  • The police can arrest you without reading your rights, but they cannot interrogate you until after reading your rights. If the police question you without detaining you, they do not have to read you your rights, but if you volunteer information as a witness (without being detained), that information can be used against you in a court of law.
  • If the police question you without detaining you, your silence can be used against you. You can say that your lawyer has advised you never to submit to questioning without seeking counsel first. That way, the officer will read you your rights, and your silence cannot be used against you, because Miranda protects you.

Because laws and Criminal Rules of Procedure vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the best person to prepare you for the process after your arrest is your criminal defense attorney.