Criminal defense is a branch of law that focuses on defending individuals and organizations who have been accused of committing a crime. The goal of a criminal defense attorney is to protect the rights of their clients and to ensure that they receive a fair trial.
Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Roles
Criminal defense lawyers encompass a wide range of legal issues, including investigations, arrest, pretrial proceedings, plea bargaining, trials, appeals, and post-conviction proceedings. It also involves a variety of different types of crimes, including felonies, misdemeanors, and federal offenses.
Some of the subspecialties of criminal defense lawyers are related to the following types of criminal prosecutions:
Violent and Nonviolent Crimes
Non-White-Collar Criminal Defense
Juvenile Criminal Defense
Right to Representation by a Defense Criminal Lawyer
When an individual is accused of a crime, they have the right to legal representation. A criminal defense attorney is responsible for representing the interests of their client throughout the criminal justice process. This includes advising them of their rights, investigating the charges against them, and advocating for them in court.
Investigation of a Criminal Case
One of the key responsibilities of a criminal defense attorney is to conduct a thorough investigation of the case. This includes reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, and examining physical evidence. The attorney will use this information to build a strong defense for their client and to challenge the prosecution's evidence.
Pretrial proceedings are another important aspect of criminal defense law. During these proceedings, the defense attorney will work to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defense and the prosecution in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced sentence or a dismissal of other charges.
If a plea bargain cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. During a trial, the defense attorney will present evidence and call witnesses to support their client's innocence. They will also cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses and challenge the evidence presented against their client.
If a client is convicted, the defense attorney may file an appeal on their behalf. An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the case and determine if there were any errors made during the trial that may have affected the outcome.
Additionally, criminal defense attorneys can also assist their client during post-conviction proceedings, such as parole hearings, clemency petitions, and expungements, among others.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Specialization: When it comes to hiring a criminal defense lawyer, it's important to choose someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in the specific type of crime you have been charged with. For example, if you are accused of drug charges, you'll want to find a lawyer who has experience handling drug cases. Additionally, you'll want to find a lawyer who is familiar with the local court system and the specific judges and prosecutors involved in your case.
Cost: It's also important to consider the attorney's fees when hiring a criminal defense lawyer. Some lawyers charge a flat fee, while others charge an hourly rate. It's important to understand the fees and to make sure that you can afford to pay them.
Communication: It's also important to find a lawyer who you feel comfortable communicating with and who you trust. You should feel confident that your lawyer has your best interests in mind and that they are working hard to defend you.
Meeting With a Lawyer for Criminal Defense
When you first meet with a criminal defense lawyer, they will likely ask you to provide them with all the details of your case. This includes information about the charges against you, any evidence that the prosecution may have against you, and any previous criminal history you may have. It's important to be honest and upfront with your lawyer so that they can provide you with the best possible defense.
Keep in mind that a good criminal defense lawyer will not only defend you in court, but also advise you about your rights and options. They will explain the possible outcomes of your case and help you make informed decisions about how to proceed.
Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers
A federal criminal defense lawyer is an attorney who specializes in representing individuals and organizations who have been accused of committing a federal crime. Federal criminal cases are criminal offenses that are defined and prosecuted under federal law, rather than state law. This all happens under a different part of the judicial system than state court: federal judges, federal courts, federal agents and federal investigations. Examples of federal crimes include drug trafficking, bank robbery, and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement and fraud.
For federal criminal charges, the best federal criminal defense lawyers will have experience working with federal prosecutors and the federal government.
State Criminal Defense Lawyers
State criminal defense lawyers are attorneys who specialize in defending people and organizations charged with state crimes. State crimes can include assault, burglary, fraud, drug possession and trafficking, murder, and more. These lawyers represent clients in state court to exonerate them and protect their constitutional rights.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Directory
To find the best criminal defense lawyers in America, and the best federal criminal defense attorneys, Best Lawyers has compiled a database of peer reviewed, experienced lawyers.