What Is the Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

What Is the Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Criminal defense attorneys play a critical role in the legal system by protecting the rights of defendants and constructing thoughtful defenses to mitigate the negative consequences that can follow an arrest.

Criminal defense attorneys often specialize in a specific type of crime. This allows them to develop deep knowledge and experience in defending against those charges. Their responsibilities encompass investigative work, guiding defendants through their legal options, presenting a compelling defense during trial, and handling appeals when necessary.

Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer can significantly impact the outcome of a case, particularly when facing charges related to drug offenses, violence, federal crimes, or sex crimes.

Investigative Abilities and Building Strong Defenses

A crucial aspect of a defense attorney’s role is conducting thorough investigations similar to those carried out by investigators. They carefully examine the evidence pertaining to the charges, which may involve seeking external assistance, interviewing witnesses, locating expert witnesses, and gathering additional evidence to enhance the chances of a not guilty verdict. By meticulously scrutinizing the case, defense attorneys identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and build strong defense strategies tailored to the defendant’s circumstances.

Guiding the Defendant and Presenting a Defense

A defense attorney guides the defendant through the complexities of their case, assisting them in making informed decisions regarding their defense. This includes evaluating potential plea deals and negotiating with the prosecution when appropriate.

If a plea deal is not desirable or feasible, the attorney develops a compelling defense strategy aimed at protecting the defendant’s interests. During trial, the defense attorney presents the defendant’s side of the story before the court and jury.

Experienced attorneys leverage their knowledge of relevant laws and statutes to construct persuasive arguments, advocating for a not guilty verdict. They also possess the ability to identify opportunities to argue for a mistrial if necessary.

Appealing Decisions and the Importance of Legal Representation

In cases where conviction or sentencing results in an unfavorable outcome, criminal defense lawyers handle the appeals process. Given the complexity of criminal appeals, attorneys with in-depth knowledge of the appeals process are crucial in navigating this stage of the criminal justice system. Legal representation is vital due to the potential consequences of a criminal conviction.

Defense attorneys possess formal education, professional resources, and experience, enabling them to determine suitable defense strategies that may not be apparent to laypeople. Therefore, individuals facing criminal charges should promptly seek the assistance of an attorney who has a proven track record in handling similar cases.

What Questions Should I Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Experience with the Crimes Charged

A defendant should also try to find an attorney who has represented defendants charged with the same or very similar offenses. Modern criminal law is so complex that many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses. For example, one may specialize in drunk driving, another in drug offenses, and another in white-collar crimes (generally referring to nonviolent, money-related crimes, such as tax fraud or embezzlement).

It is perfectly appropriate for a defendant to inquire during the initial consultation about the attorney’s experience. A defendant should not hire a lawyer who refuses to specifically discuss her experience or gives vague, unrevealing answers.

EXAMPLE: Zach Michaels is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (drunk driving). Zach might ask the lawyer he’s thinking of retaining such questions as:

  • “Have you represented people who have been charged with drunk driving?”
  • “What percentage of your practice involves representing people charged with drunk driving?”
  • “Are you certified as a specialist in drunk driving cases?” (Some states allow attorneys to qualify as specialists in specific areas of practice; others do not.)
  • “What percentage of your practice involves appearing in the court that my case will be assigned to?”

Because most private lawyers have years of criminal law experience either as a prosecutor or as a P.D. before going into private practice, defendants should not have to sacrifice quality to find attorneys who have local experience with their types of cases.

The Personal Factor

A defendant’s lawyer speaks for the defendant. No matter how highly recommended a lawyer may be, it is also important that the lawyer be someone with whom the defendant is personally comfortable. The best attorney-client relationships are those in which clients are full partners in the decision-making process, and defendants should try to hire lawyers who see them as partners, not as case files.

Thus, defendants should ask themselves questions such as these when considering whether to hire a particular lawyer:

  • “Does the attorney seem to be someone I can work with and talk openly to?”
  • “Does the attorney explain things in a way that I can understand?”
  • “Does the lawyer show personal concern and a genuine desire to want to help?”
  • “Do the lawyer’s concerns extend to my overall personal situation, rather than just the crime with which I’m charged?”
  • “Does the lawyer appear to be a person who will engender trust in prosecutors, judges, and, if necessary, jurors

Reach Out to Our Law Firm Today

Collaborating with a skilled criminal defense lawyer significantly influences the outcome of a case, particularly when facing charges such as assault and battery, drug offenses, fraud, alcohol-related offenses, theft, or homicide.

Attorney Lanease D. Fuller, a highly experienced attorney in Houston, offers affordable legal services and free consultations to those in need. With nearly three decades of experience representing diverse clients, Attorney Fuller brings a wealth of knowledge to personal injury cases, criminal defense, DWI arrests, civil litigation disputes, and business-related legal matters. Contact our law firm today to take the first step toward resolving your case and protecting your rights.


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