Criminal Law

What is a criminal lawyer?

  • There are two types of criminal lawyers: defense attorneys and prosecutors. Prosecutors usually work for the government while defense attorneys can work for a firm or independently.

How do you become a criminal lawyer?

  • You must have a bachelor's degree and pass "the bar" which is the test you take after you graduate law school, which adds up to about 7 years of school.

What can I do to pursue my dream of becoming a criminal lawyer?

Focus on a well-rounded high school education that hones writing skills.Take high school classes that emphasize organized research and persuasive writing, as well as critical study of others’ writings. Because much of a lawyer’s practice involves communicating, courses that build vocabulary help. Students also should take classes that look at how human behavior interacts with institutions. That includes sociology, political science, psychology and history. Science and math classes sharpen analytical thinking. Coursework that trains students to read large amounts of information is vital. Stick with honors or advanced placement courses and read as much as possible to prepare for the rigors of law school. It's also important to keep your grade-point average high so that you have your choice of colleges and eventually law school.

Law students and lawyers must learn to make persuasive oral arguments. Join your high school’s debate or forensics clubs to get a jump-start on verbal sparring. To develop public-speaking skills, make formal presentations in class or volunteer to speak in front of groups at school, in the community or at work. High school students can also get a sneak peek at law school through summer camps, conferences and high school moot-court competitions. Programs hold mock trials, often revolving around current events, that allow students to play both prosecution and defense. Competition judges evaluate participants on speaking ability and the strength of their arguments. Moot court competitions also host guest speakers who work in the legal field. Through some programs, students go on field trips to meet members of the community and the legal profession. Some universities also hold single-day events that teach high school students about the legal profession.

What do criminal lawyers do on a daily basis?

Criminal lawyers have the same basic duties as other lawyers. First, they advise their clients of their legal rights and responsibilities, as well as any potential problems. Second, they represent their clients before the courts. Third, they research rules, regulations, and previous cases. Finally, they prepare legal documents. All lawyers interpret the law and apply it to specific situations. But while other lawyers deal with contracts, real estate, divorces, and disputes between individuals, criminal lawyers deal with cases that involve crimes, like murder, robbery, assault, and fraud. In the courtroom, criminal lawyers act on one of two “sides:” the defense or the prosecution. Defense attorneys represent people who have been charged with criminal offenses (for example, murder or theft) by making a case that supports their clients’ innocence. On the other hand, prosecuting attorneys act for the government on behalf of the public. They form cases against defendants by convincing juries to view the facts as evidence of guilt. In our justice system, the burden of proof is on the prosecuting attorney. This means that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and it is up to the prosecution to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. Both prosecuting and defense attorneys are responsible for preparing their cases before and during the trial. As a result, a large part of their time is spent outside the courtroom, researching legal information and interviewing witnesses, such as the police or civilian bystanders. Preparing for a trial involves carefully examining all the facts in the case and using them to support the attorney’s argument. It also involves consulting various experts in other fields, such as psychologists and scientists.

Watch the video above to see what you can do to become a qualified criminal lawyer!!