What does a criminal defense attorney do?

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What do you think about when you hear “attorney”? Do you think about the attorneys you see on television? The role of a defense attorney is not much different from what you see on television. A criminal defense lawyer is responsible for defending a person who is charged with a crime. 

Responsibilities of Criminal Defense Lawyer:

Assignment of the Case

A criminal defense lawyer either is contacted directly by the defendant, or may be assigned the case by the court. A criminal defense lawyer can be public defenders who are paid by the public defender’s office, where they are appointed cases by the courts. Other criminal defense lawyers are employed by private firms. A criminal lawyer may have an independent legal office that they man themselves, and in some cases, a court may appoint a private lawyer to take a specific case.

Case Interview

After the criminal defense lawyer meets with the client, he or she should get as many details about the case as possible. By asking specific questions about the case, he or she can learn about defenses and strengths and weaknesses about the case.

Investigation into the Case

After all information is gathered, the defense attorney determines his client’s situation and begins planning how to best present the case to the court. This often includes questioning police about the procedures involved. They may also talk to witnesses who have information about the case and collecting information about the case. All of this information is used to try to build a strong defense for the case.

Contact with the Client

A criminal attorney must stay in constant contact with his client to keep them posted on any developments in the case, and to keep the client informed about the case. All conversations with client must be kept confidential.

Jury Selection

A criminal defense lawyer helps with the jury selection process. The lawyer can have jurors removed if they may be biased against the defendant, or even if they have a bad feeling about a potential juror.

Plea Bargaining

A criminal defense lawyer is also responsible for negotiating with the prosecutor regarding any plea bargain.

Trial Participation

A criminal defense lawyer examines witnesses, cross-examines the state’s witnesses and tries to convince the jury that the prosecution has failed to meet proof of burden.

Sentencing

If the defendant is sentenced for the crime, a criminal defense lawyer represents the defendant during the sentencing phase. He can help convince the judge or jury to limit the amount of time that the defendant serves and suggest possible alternatives to incarceration.

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