Criminal Defense Lawyer

Defending individuals and companies, which have been charged with a crime, is the job of a criminal defense lawyer. There is a broad range of criminal cases handled by a criminal defense lawyer including domestic violence crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes and drug crimes.

Criminal Lawyer Education and Experience

Obtaining a law degree and passing the bar examination in the state in which they wish to practice is a must thing for a criminal lawyer. There are some criminal lawyers who earn a board certification from the NBLSC. The American Bar Association has accredited the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC) in order to provide board certification for attorneys.

Criminal Lawyer Job Description

Representing defendants, facing criminal charges in state, federal and appellate courts is the job of criminal lawyers. Bail bond hearings, trial, appeals, plea bargains, revocation hearings and post conviction remedies are included in the span of practice of criminal lawyers. Being a criminal lawyer, it is a part of lawyer’s job to the following things:

Investigating the case and interviewing the witness

Researching case law, statutes, crimes codes and procedural law

Building a defense and developing a case strategy

Negotiating with the prosecutions to plea bargain to lesser charges

Drafting, filing and arguing motions like motions to dismiss and motions to suppress

Advocating for defendant at trial


Criminal Lawyer Skills

Criminal lawyers are required to possess outstanding oral and written advocacy skills so that they may be able to argue the case of a client as well as persuade a jury. Criminal lawyers are also required to possess investigative and research skills which are very helpful in building the case of a client and establishing a strong defense. If a criminal lawyer has strong analytical skills, he is not only able to develop a legal strategy and analyze case law but also litigate complex cases.

In order to navigate the criminal justice system in an efficient way, it is very important for the criminal lawyers to have a good understanding of state, federal and local rules, court procedures evidentiary laws and local judges. For building a strong client-attorney relationship, they need outstanding interpersonal skills. Criminal defendants are a choosy group and they often go through a lot of lawyers before settling on one they like. So it is very important for a lawyer to be able to attract and retain clients.


Practice Environment

There are many criminal lawyers who work in private practice or in a solo firm. Still there are many who choose to work for non-profit agencies or for the government as public defenders. Generally criminal lawyers have to work long hours. They nature of their job requires them to meet their clients at some outside location such as courthouse, prisons, hospitals and other venues. There are criminal lawyers who prefer to maintain a local practice. Frequent traveling is required for criminal attorneys with a national practice.

Criminal Lawyer Salaries

There are a few things that play an important role in determining the salary of a criminal lawyer such as experience and the geographical location of the firm. The most common salary bracket for a public defender is $30K to $ 50K. Criminal lawyers hired by law firms are normally paid the highest salaries whereas experienced lawyers have been seen earning well into the six figures. The criminal lawyers who earn the highest salaries are often those who take the responsibility to represent high-profile defendants.

Breaking In to Criminal Law

It is common for a number of criminal lawyers to start their careers as prosecutors or public defenders. The job of a public defender is to represent defendants who are unable to afford a lawyer and normally it is a court that appoints public defenders. Attorney with moot court experience in their law schools are better able to develop oral advocacy skills and acquire trial experience in a simulated setting.

Criminal Lawyer Job Outlook

Have you ever thought what made criminal law a growing practice niche? The increase in crime rates has also increased the number of people behind the bars and it has happened over the past thirty years. The increase in crime rates have resulted in the form of increased population in the prisons throughout the country. With the passage of time, the need for criminal lawyers to defend the accused will also rise, as more and more people are charged under state and federal laws.