A criminal lawyer is a defense attorney. When a criminal lawyer takes on representation for a client, that representation is to defend against criminal charges. This could happen in either federal court, state court, or an appeals (appellate) court.

What are some of the primary tasks of a criminal lawyer?

  • To pursue plea bargains, and negotiate plea bargain deals
  • To negotiate with prosecutors to get lessened charges
  • To represent the client in bail bond hearings
  • To seek fair treatment in parole or probation hearings (also called “revocation hearings”)
  • To appeal a conviction, and follow the appeals processes into the appellate court system
  • To research precedent in previously decided cases, as well as the statutes and case law relevant to the case at hand
  • To read up on the procedural law pertaining to the case
  • To craft a strategy for the defense
  • To interview potential character witnesses and other witnesses before the trial
  • To investigate the circumstances of the case, and gain a full understanding of the situations and conditions leading up to the event at the center of the case
  • To argue the case for the defense in front of a judge and/or jury
  • To advocate for the defendant throughout all stages of the case

While undertaking all of these activities, the criminal lawyer gets to know the defendant and the defendant’s family. He or she helps the family plan and prepare for life after these charges – whether the case turns into a conviction or a probation, a plea bargain or a full acquittal.

The criminal lawyer translates all of the often-confusing language and processes of the criminal court system. This lawyer not only represents the client, but acts as a conduit and a buffer between the criminal justice system and the individual.