When it comes to the most glamorized occupations in mainstream media, lawyers are up there together with doctors. And while doctors are often portrayed as obsessive-compulsive individuals who impulsively sneak into broom closets to make out, lawyers are always characterized as quick-witted individuals who command respect in, and even out of, the court of law.
Criminal lawyers are litigators who defend individuals and organizations that have been accused of a crime. Known also as criminal defense lawyers or public defenders, these lawyers handle a wide spectrum of cases from simple theft to the more complex drug crimes.
Becoming a Criminal Lawyer
Just like any practicing lawyer, criminal defense lawyers must be holders of a law degree and pass their state’s bar examination in order for them to practice. A number of criminal lawyers are also holders of board certifications from various organizations, one of which is the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, a non-profit organization which is under the American Bar Association.
Nature and Scope of the Job
Criminal lawyers are in charge of defending individuals in appellate, federal and state courts, and are not just in charge of trials in general but also bail bond hearings and plea bargains, appeals and other remedial procedures after a conviction is served, and revocation hearings which tackle the subject of parole and probations. Before the actual arguing within the courtroom happens, criminal lawyers dedicate a number of hours into research and investigation which includes interviewing witnesses. Public defenders may also need to spur negotiations especially when they’re trying to snag a plea bargain to lessen the charges filed. At the heart of every case is a good strategy that can either help to build a great defense if not get the case dismissed.
Regardless of which specific field you decide to specialize in, every lawyer must possess outstanding oral and written skills. While some people might think that speaking in front of a judge and jury is all there is to it to being a lawyer, a good deal of writing is required especially when it comes to drafting pleas and appeals. One also has to improve at his or her interpersonal skills in order to relate with a client more effectively and better represent him or her in court. Developing a good client-attorney relationship is even more crucial when it comes to criminal cases because this group of clients is known for jumping from one lawyer to another before settling with the public defender that they really like.
Sarah Rawson writes about various interesting topics on her blog. She features travel, pharmD programs, and online law enforcement degrees.