What Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Do?

By Frank Coutinho | May 15, 2018
Photo by: Pexels What Can a Criminal Lawyer Do For You?

Criminal defense lawyers sometimes get a not-so-flattering portrayal in the media because people sometimes assume that they defend guilty people. However, if you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding, you have the right to be assisted by a qualified criminal defense lawyer, regardless of your involvement in the charges brought against you. As the protectors and advocates of the accused, defense lawyers play a pivotal role in the United States justice system to see that everyone charged with a criminal act has an opportunity to defend themselves.


Criminal Lawyers Defend the Innocent

The second most important role of a criminal attorney is to defend the innocent. We hear daily stories about overturned criminal cases where new evidence verifies the incarceration of an innocent person who has served time as a result of an incorrect guilty verdict. And, while for the most part, most clients of criminal defense attorneys are somewhat criminally culpable in the crime they have been charged with, on rare occasions, some of a lawyer's clients are truly innocent. Though a rare occurrence, innocent people are accused and convicted of criminal offenses.


To combat the prosecution of the wrongly accused, criminal defense lawyers must be diligent in holding prosecutors, and police are accountable for every stage of their investigation in every case they handle. Thus, defense lawyers must take their role seriously, as advocates for the innocent and the not-so-innocent, to ensure that the guilty don't escape while the innocent are punished.


Therefore, to accomplish the task of upholding a client's constitutional rights and acting as a watchdog to oversee the conduct of police and prosecutors, a criminal defense lawyer must zealously pursue independent investigations into the crime for which a client has been accused. This is to ensure that at trial, the client is either completely exonerated, or that there is enough evidence to prove that reasonable doubt exists to warrant his/her client's release from custody.


Defense Lawyers Protect the Rights of the Accused

First and foremost, a criminal defense lawyer's role is to protect the rights of the accused. Upholding your rights under the Bill of Rights as set forth in the United States Constitution, criminal defense lawyers are bound by law to assist their clients by making sure you are treated fairly by the United States criminal justice system. A criminal defense lawyer is obligated to provide clients with protection against the overreach of the government in handing out punishment to an individual accused of a criminal offense. An experienced, qualified lawyer accomplishes this by challenging any government or law enforcement conduct that violates the rights of any United States citizen accused of a crime. Should a criminal defense lawyer fail to make reasonable efforts to protect your rights or provide effective assistance, he/she risks losing his/her license to practice law or other penalties (some of which could include jail time).


Lawyers are a Necessity in the Judicial System

Sometimes portrayed as villains who help criminals run free, criminal defense lawyers are necessary for the United States legal system to run smoothly. Without the availability of qualified legal representation for those accused of crimes, the potential for overreach by the government would be astronomically high. A balanced system where all parties are represented, and where one side isn't given free rein to rule over the other, is what our judicial system is all about. And while every system has its flaws, the United States judicial system is still the best available in the world.

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