A defense lawyer is a type of attorney that represents an accused party in a lawsuit or criminal case. A defense lawyer may be privately or publicly retained.
A privately retained defense lawyer is chosen by the accused party and paid for by them. A publicly retained defense lawyer are appointed by the state to represent the defendant. The jurisdiction may dictate what practices and decrees are used. Most defense lawyers start out as prosecutors for the state- which means that they are acting on the interest of the victim but do not directly represent them. A defense lawyer needs to represent the client within reasonable limits. They cannot lie to the court, or help to perpetuate a lie. Many defense lawyers will not want to know if their client is guilty or not because they can help their client to win without absolute knowledge.
Criminal defense lawyers deal with a variety of misdemeanor or felony issues that stem from an arrest which may include the criminal investigation, criminal charges, sentencing, appeals, trial issues and much more. Criminal defense lawyers in the United States are employed by various forms of government including state and federal government. A defense attorney needs to have a solid understanding of the United States Constitution.
To become a criminal defense lawyer, a person will generally have to complete their undergraduate degree and then graduate from law school. After completing law school, they will have to pass the bar examination. Many criminal defense lawyers will mentor under an experienced attorney to gain real world experience before they begin to practice law on their own.
Private Defense Attorneys
A private defense lawyer may be selected by an individual who can pay for their services to help them with their case. A private attorney can negotiate with prosecuting officials, promote pre-trial diversionary programs, understand and explain legal defenses to their client, and much more. Hiring a private defense attorney is quite expensive- with most private defense attorneys requiring payment or a down payment for their services.
If you are looking to hire a private defense attorney, it is important to speak about their costs, style and goals. If you are looking at selecting a private defense attorney, you should do your research and ask for recommendations. A few of the main questions you should ask if you are looking to hire a private defense attorney include:
- Has the defense attorney worked similar cases?
- How did the case go?
- What was the outcome?
- How much time can the lawyer dedicate to your case?
- What are the communication policies between you and your lawyer?
- What is the strategy for your case?
- What are the costs?
Public Defense Attorneys
A public defense attorney is provided by the state or federal governments to represent people who do not have the means to pay for a private attorney. A public defender is appointed by the courts to provide legal aid to those who cannot afford to pay for their own legal counsel. It is important to keep in mind that not all states have the same laws in place to determine who receives a public defense attorney and who doesn’t. In most states, a defendant will have to request a court-appointed legal team. Then they will have to submit a financial eligibility questionnaire. Financial eligibility is generally based on the sole individual’s income. A defendant typically cannot choose the public defense attorney that they will be working with.
United States Constitutional Rights
It is important for United States citizens to be aware of their constitutional rights. The United States Constitutional Rights includes the Right to Counsel. This means that a defendant has the right to have the assistance of counsel- which may refer to a private lawyer or public defender. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the government will appoint one for you. The right to counsel is very important because it allows for the right to a fair trial.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution includes:
- The right to counsel of choice
- The right to appointed counsel
- The right to conflict-free counsel
- The effective assistance of counsel
- The right to represent oneself
If you need a defense lawyer, you should know your personal and legal rights. Make sure that you do your personal research to find out how to best work with your defense attorney.