Criminal Lawyer: What You Should Know
Criminal law is a very broad area with many different facets. The sheer number of laws and regulations can be overwhelming, and the legal system’s complexity means that only an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the process. This article will explore what you should know before hiring a criminal defense attorney.
Who Is a Criminal Attorney?
A criminal defense attorney defends people against charges brought by state or federal governments for committing crimes. They will either be seeking an acquittal or lesser punishment (such as probation) through trial. They must have a license to practice law in the jurisdiction they work in and are subject to strict rules governing the activities they may engage in.
Qualifications of a Criminal Attorney
Someone who wants to become a criminal defense lawyer will need to have a law degree first, either by completing an LL.B. at an accredited university or passing the bar exam. Like other lawyers, they must also meet their jurisdiction’s particular bar requirements and pass a character and fitness review. Some states require that attorneys have formal training in certain types of cases before handling them on their own. Still, most jurisdictions allow anyone with the required credentials to practice criminal law so long as they meet any ongoing eligibility requirements.
Criminal lawyers must always adhere to an established set of rules designed specifically for them and those governing all attorneys. These rules include everything from ethical standards for how attorneys should behave to stringent guidelines that dictate what qualities they need to be licensed. The rules often change, so criminal lawyers must stay up-to-date with changes.
Criminal Law Specialties
There are several different specialties within this field. Some criminal lawyers only focus on a specific area like white-collar crimes or drug offenses. In contrast, others choose to become specialists in one part of the criminal justice system, such as misdemeanors or appeals. Since each jurisdiction has its laws governing crime and penalties, many attorneys specialize by state or even municipality to be familiar with its laws.
Responsibilities of a Criminal Attorney
A criminal defense lawyer has several responsibilities, including advising clients about the nature of charges and their legal rights, filing documents with the court on behalf of a client, negotiating deals to resolve cases without trial, and representing clients in court.
A criminal lawyer also represents people accused of crimes in the pre-trial phase. They must file requests for discovery (information from prosecutors about charges and evidence) with judges so that they can determine if there’s enough evidence against their client to proceed to trial. It may be necessary for them to consult with experts on forensic science or other specialized fields who have information relevant to a case and research applicable laws and judicial decisions made by previous courts when defending clients.
Criminal attorneys may also help represent clients at sentencing hearings if they’re convicted at trials or plead guilty. These proceedings involve judges deciding appropriate punishments for people who’ve been found guilty of breaking the law.
Who Can Hire a Criminal Attorney?
Criminal lawyers are hired by people accused of committing a crime or their representatives. They mustn’t appear as objective witnesses in court since they’ve advocated for their clients outside of legal proceedings.
If a defendant is afraid they’ll be convicted during a trial, they may opt to negotiate a plea agreement instead. These deals involve one person agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for lesser charges from the government. A chance at obtaining a better outcome at sentencing is why defendants agree to plea deals, but they could also be motivated by their desire not to take time away from their jobs and families.
A criminal lawyer doesn’t have the power to force a client to accept a plea agreement. Instead, they must try convincing them that the potential benefits of taking one outweigh any risks involved in going to trial.
If you are looking to hire a Knoxville criminal defense attorney or a DUI attorney, call us today or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation!