A criminal defense lawyer is an attorney specializing in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal activity. Some criminal defense lawyers are privately retained, while others are employed by the various jurisdictions with criminal courts for appointment to represent indigent persons; the latter are generally called public defenders. The terminology is imprecise because each jurisdiction may have different practices with various levels of input from state and federal law. Some jurisdictions use a rotating system of appointments, with judges appointing a private practice attorney or firm for each case.
It is the job of criminal defense attorneys to represent those charged with crimes in court. Crimes can range in severity from a misdemeanor to a felony. Punishment can range from a minor fine or community service to years in prison or even death. Representation during criminal proceedings is critical for those charged with committing a crime. In fact, the United States Constitution promises that all citizens charged with a crime will be provided representation. If you have retained the services of a criminal law lawyer or are seeking to retain one, you should know what services your attorney may be able to perform. The attorneys here at Valerie Garrett Law Office can assist you with this process.
In the United States, criminal defense lawyers deal with the issues surrounding an arrest, a criminal investigation, criminal charges, sentencing, appeals, and post-trial issues. Often an attorney will specialize in a niche within criminal defense, such as drug defense or DUI defense. Criminal defense lawyers are typically defending people with misdemeanor or felony charges. A misdemeanor generally refers to criminal activity that is punishable by one year or less in the local jail. A felony typically refers to criminal activity that is punishable by more than one year in the prison system. Many states have “wobblers”, which refers to criminal activity that is charged as a felony, but has a possibility of being reduced to a misdemeanor. In matters involving a wobbler, many times a reputable lawyer can either have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor or in the alternative have the felony appear to be a misdemeanor so that the felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor at a later date, which may be good strategy since the typical felony cannot be expunged.
Criminal defense law consists of the legal protections afforded to people who have been accused of committing a crime. Law enforcement agencies and government prosecutors have extensive resources at their disposal. Without adequate protections for the accused, the balance of power within the justice system would become skewed in favor of the government. As it is, fair treatment for criminal defendants often depends as much upon the skill of their defense attorney as it does the substantive protections contained in the law.
Defense attorneys know how to use constitutional guarantees to the advantage of their clients. For example, all criminal prosecutions are based upon evidence gathered by the government. This may include physical items of evidence, witness statements, confessions, drug and alcohol tests, and so forth. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment) prohibits the police from using unreasonable searches and seizures to gather evidence. If they do, a defense attorney will ask the court to suppress that evidence so it cannot be used at trial.
The Constitution provides many more protections that apply to the field of criminal defense law. Someone who has been tried and acquitted of a crime cannot again be charged with that office, as mandated by the “double jeopardy” provision of the Fifth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to a public trial, and in many cases, the right to have their guilt or innocence decided by a jury. It also affords the right to confront adverse witnesses, and to use the court’s subpoena power to compel the appearance of favorable witnesses.
In fact, the role of a defense attorney is not much different from what you see on television. Whether he or she deals with criminal or civil cases, a defense attorney is an advocate for the accused, charged with protecting his client’s interests and making sure the law works as it should. At Valerie Garrett Law Office, we can provide you with the proper defense and the assistance you need throughout the entire process.
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Valerie Garrett Law Office
Top rated practicing family law attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana. She was drawn to an area of the law where she could help individuals faced with a family crisis.