The Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

One of the most stressful events that can occur during a person's life is the act of being charged with a criminal offense. Beside the embarrassment and damage that can be caused by bad publicity, the reality that one may have to face a trial and eventually even possible incarceration can cause one to lose sleep for days. Sometimes, especially if the defendant is truly innocent, that person may think that the mere act of telling the truth in court will easily lead to the dismissal of the case. Things, unfortunately, do not always work this way.

The legal system is complex. Attorneys go through a very intense and difficult three year course of study where they get an overview of the law. A good criminal defense lawyer will have taken classes pertaining to courtroom behavior and etiquette. An experienced defense attorney will be comfortable working in the criminal justice system and will know many of the parties involved. It is very important to have knowledgeable and qualified legal representation.

A criminal defense lawyer is important from minute one. If a person is accused of any criminal offense, the first thing they must do is ask to call their attorney. A good defense lawyer will promptly respond. If the defendant is incarcerated, the lawyer will work to quickly free him from jail.

Next, the defense attorney will make sure that his client will say or do nothing that will further complicate the situation. The rule that states "anything you say can and will be used against you," is to be heeded. The defense lawyer will counsel his client and tell him what information to divulge. The lawyer will know which authorities should be spoken to and which facts concerning the case should be made public.

Sometimes, the practice of plea bargaining can be utilized. With this scenario, a district attorney may offer a deal so that the defendant can plead guilty to a lesser crime and therefore avoid a lengthy trial. Sometimes a plea bargain can turn a felony into a misdemeanor--a much less damaging accusation. A good defense attorney is absolutely necessary if this process is desired. Individuals should never attempt to complete a plea bargain on their own.

If all else fails, the criminal case may go to trial. Again, this is where the knowledgeable services of a defense attorney are so necessary. It may look easy on television, but the trial process can be fraught with pitfalls for the untrained and the uninitiated. Attorneys know court procedures. They know the judges and the bailiffs. They may actually have tried numerous cases before the same judge. All of this experience is critically important.

If the defense attorney is successful in court the case is dismissed and the defendant can go free. This is obviously the best of all worlds. If the defendant is found guilty, there is still an important role for the defense attorney. Sometimes judges have great leeway in sentencing. A positive campaign engineered by the defense attorney can many times result in a much lesser sentence for the defendant. Again, the attorney has been down all of these roads before and can be a great asset.

The old joke--"a person who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client," can unfortunately be very true. There are many things a quality defense lawyer knows that can help his client. Anyone accused of a crime should get the best legal representation possible. Any money spent will be well worth it if a better outcome is attained, and the use of a quality criminal defense attorney will go a long way toward that better resolution.