What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
Unfortunately, there is a somewhat negative perception surrounding criminal defense attorneys. It's often assumed that the purpose of criminal defense attorneys is to ensure that their clients are found not guilty, regardless of their innocence. But in fact, the role of the defense attorney is much more complex and doesn't always involve counseling a client to plead not guilty. Additionally, everyone has a right to a legal defense. Without criminal defense attorneys, it would be impossible for people to get that defense. With that being said, let's look at the responsibilities of these attorneys and why they are so important.
1. Counsel Their Clients
Typically, a criminal defense lawyer will not actually make decisions for their clients. Rather, they will give their clients advice. Few of us who are not lawyers truly understand the law, and criminal law is incredibly complicated. A defense lawyer will essentially translate your situation for you and advise you as to what they think will be the best course of action. They can help you come to a conclusion about how to proceed.
2. Verify Evidence
If you're facing criminal charges, those charges will need to be backed up by evidence of some kind. Your lawyer will be able to research your case and the evidence and determine whether it's valid. In some cases, just the incorrect collection of evidence can lead to a judge throwing it out, but your lawyer must request that first. Fortunately, at least 12 states lacked laws restricting public access to police body camera footage as of 2018. Your lawyer can use this to your advantage.
3. Negotiate Deals
Not every case ends with a not guilty verdict. But you can potentially avoid a long trial and harsh sentence by agreeing to a plea deal. Typically, you would plead no contest or guilty to a charge in order to get a lighter sentence, though some plea deals are also based on issues like evidence you could offer the prosecution. Your lawyer can negotiate your deal and advise you as to whether it's the right option.
It's scary to face a criminal case. Your lawyer, however, can make the process easier to understand and will advocate for your best outcome.