What It Means To Be A Criminal Attorney
There is a lot more to being a criminal attorney than watching a full season of Law & Order every day, to be a criminal lawyer you will have to learn how to handle criminal cases that come from a vast diverse spectrum.
To be clear, to be a criminal defense lawyer (or a public defender) means that you will be defending individuals or organizations that are facing charges in a trial. Whether you are a public defender (being paid by the state to defend those who cannot afford to pay for themselves and are usually overworked) or a defense attorney, you will work on cases that include (but are not limited to) domestic violence, drug crimes, fraud, and theft.
Becoming a criminal lawyer
Like every other lawyer, if you desire to be a criminal defense attorney, you will have to obtain a law degree first. Then get ready to study some more so you can pass the bar examination. Remember, you need to pass the bar in the state that you wish to practice law in. Now, you can start working as a lawyer and choose your own field. However, some lawyers choose to earn a certification for their criminal law specialty. Namely, you can choose to earn a certification from the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. This board is a non-profit that offers a certificate that might not be necessary, but will certainly help you on your way up.
Doing the job
When you overly simplify it, the job of a criminal attorney sounds very simple. They represent people who are facing criminal charges in courts. You will have to have a nigh-perfect understanding of state workings. You will need to learn federal and local rules, procedures, laws and even local judges to be capable of doing this job competently.
However, apart for just including bail bond hearings, trial, appeals and legal remedies, as a part of your job as a criminal attorney you will have to:
– Investigate the case
– Talk to witnesses
– Research law, statutes, codes, procedures and precedents
– Build a case and develop a defense strategy
– Sometimes negotiate with prosecution to attempt to make a plea bargain in exchange for lesser charges
– Draft and file documents
– Argue Appeals and motions
What skills do you need to develop?
Well, first of all, to be a successful criminal lawyer you need to be persuasive. For this, you should develop oral and written presentation skills to be capable of properly advocating for the defendant at the trial. In the end, your goal is to persuade the jury in front of you.
You will also have to work on your research skills to be capable of actually building a case for your client. Investigation of the case will potentially provide you with insight that you need to win.
Being both creative and analytical will also mean a lot when it comes to developing a strategy and litigating complex cases.
You will also need to have highly developed interpersonal skills to create a relationship with your potential client. It is very common for defendants to go through multiple lawyers before finding one that they feel suits them the best, and if you want to run a private practice in criminal law, you will need to be likable and have the ability to keep your clients.
Is the money as good as the TV shows promise?
Well, both “yes” and “no”. Salaries for criminal defense lawyers are not fixed at any point. There are a lot of variables that determine how much money you can earn. For an example: Are you working alone in your private practice, or are you working for a firm? Are you a public defender or a private attorney? If you are working alone, you will definitely get to keep most of the money you earn, but there will be times when you might not feel you have enough clients while working for firm guarantees a salary whether or not there is enough work and you do not have to worry as much.
And, if you choose to work as a public defender, you can expect to have a relatively modest salary of about 47.000 dollars a year for an entry level.
On the other side, if you work for a big law firm, you can expect to earn a lot of money. Experienced criminal lawyers tend to break into the six figure salary, especially if your firm is hardly wealthy defendants.
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