If someone is facing criminal charges, he or she can be slapped with heavy penalties and even imprisonment leading to drastic consequences for his personal and professional life. It also means social stigma that is hard to overcome. A criminal defense lawyer is a professional who can guide and help such an individual in avoiding these negative consequences. A defense attorney uses his knowledge of the criminal law and his experience to lower the penalties or get the charges dismissed altogether. Defense attorneys protect the rights and freedoms of their clients. However, many people remain confused regarding the roles and responsibilities of a criminal defense lawyer. We will understand these duties in detail in this article.
Handling Subpoenas Served To Individuals & Entities
The legal tool used by investigating agencies to inform people about criminal charges framed against them or their company is called a subpoena. Most people become nervous and fearful upon receiving subpoenas from federal or state investigating agencies. There is nothing to worry about these documents as they are merely tools in the hands of agencies to inform people about their involvement with a criminal case. A good quality defense attorney knows how to handle subpoenas and respond to them appropriately on behalf of his client to avoid unwarranted scrutiny or investigation.
Making An Assessment Of The Case
As part of his duties, a defense attorney takes a close look at all the facts associated with a criminal case and makes his assessment. He or she looks minutely at all aspects of the case and works to defend his client even if he knows that he is at fault. If the attorney accepts the case, it means he can work through the loopholes in the laws to get the charges dismissed against the client. It is based on his assessment that the defense attorney determines the odds of acquittal or conviction of his client.
Gathering Evidence Related To The Case
It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to collect as much information as he can about the crime, incident, or mishap. He can visit the scene of the crime in a bid to collect evidence to present the case in front of the jury in a water-tight manner. He asks his client questions related to the case to know the truth as it helps him in strengthening his argument. He also gathers information about witnesses and contacts them to see if they can give testimony in the law court. The defense attorney has to see that evidence is not destroyed or manipulated by anyone related to the case.
Updating The Client
It is the responsibility of the attorney to keep the client updated about the latest developments in the case. He has to appear in the court of law many times and he cannot afford to miss any date. He has to represent the client at all hearings and trials. He has to keep the client appraised about the progress in the case and the happenings taking place in the court.
Providing Legal Counsel
This is an important duty of the defense attorney where he or she provides all legal advice to the client. The client is told about legal options available to him that help in lowering charges or their complete dismissal. The attorney uses his knowledge of the law and interprets them for the client so that he understands the legal options available to him.
Handling Pleas On Behalf Of Client
In many criminal cases, the prosecutor who is a state attorney contacts the defense lawyer to offer a plea bargain. Under this offer, the state wants the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser crime than the one he has been charged with. It is done to save the resources of the state as the case is finished without a trial. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to accept, negotiate for a better deal, or reject the plea offer altogether. The attorney does so based on his understanding of the case and the role of his client in the crime. The attorney gives legal counsel to his client on this plea bargain and decides to go to the trial if he is sufficiently confident of the innocence of his client or his knowledge of the laws to prove the client innocent in the court of law during the trial.
Role In Jury Selection
If the case goes to trial and there is a jury in place of a single judge, the role of the defense attorney is to get selected judges who are sympathetic to the cause of his client. If the prosecutor dominates in the selection of the jury, the chances of acquittal go down significantly. This is where the experience and the communication skills of the defense attorney come into the picture.
Drafting & Arguing Appeals
This is perhaps the most important of the duties of a defense lawyer. He has to use his knowledge of the law to draft and argue appeals in front of the judge in a law court when defending his client. He has to collect and present evidence in such a manner that the jury is convinced of the innocence of his client. He should be able to draft and present motions to suppress and motions to dismiss. The main objective of the defense attorney is to resolve the case as quickly as possible in favor of his client.
The role of a defense attorney is similar to that of a doctor and his patient. He is a professional who aims to represent his client in a court of law to get a favorable verdict for him. He needs to keep communication with his client confidential and safeguard his interest in the law court. He needs to work smartly in assessing the case and gathering evidence to prove the innocence of the client in front of the judge or the jury. He must use his knowledge of the law and the ability to interpret the laws to present the case of the client convincingly in front of the judge.