When you hear the word criminal defense lawyer, a not-very-flattering image probably comes to mind. Most people give them a bad rapport because they defend people who have been accused of committing crimes. However, the fairness of the justice system rests on having a suitable reputation for those accused of committing crimes. Criminal defense lawyers, therefore, are an integral part of the judicial system.
But what do criminal defense lawyers do? Let’s take a look!
They Protect the Rights of the Accused
As citizens of the country, and as human beings, all individuals are granted rights in the eyes of the law. This fact is detailed in the United States Constitution under the Bill of Rights and is awarded to all citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment. Criminal defense lawyers are legally bound to make sure that as a person who has been accused of a crime, you are treated fairly by the criminal justice system of the United States.
What are the rights that an accused person is allowed?
- The right to be tried by a jury of peers (peers here means other citizens of the United States who are verified by the lawyers of both prosecution and defense)
- The right to a speedy trial
- The right to a public trial
- The right to being innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt
- The right to remain silent (you may remember this from the Miranda rights that are used as dialogues in cop-based films and television shows)
- The right to not be subjected to unreasonable seizures and searches
- The right to legal counsel
Why do accused criminals need to have their rights protected?
These rights are important for accused criminals as it protects them from the overreach of the government and policing systems. It also protects people against the possibility of false information being generated to frame an otherwise innocent person.
They Defend the Innocent
Sometimes people are convicted of crimes even if they are innocent. This could happen due to malpractice by the government or police. This may be a rare occurrence but is possible, and that is why people accused must have the right to a trial. In a trial, a defense lawyer will challenge the evidence brought by the prosecution. If the defense lawyer can prove that the evidence does not clear the reasonable doubt that a person is innocent, they may not be presumed guilty by the jury.
They Defend the Guilty
While this may seem somewhat morally and ethically questionable, it is nevertheless important. Sometimes the accused may plead that they are guilty in the trial. In this case, defense lawyers will try and get a reduced sentence for their client. This is an important reformative measure that the legal system has, as showing remorse and taking responsibility may indicate the person won’t commit a crime again.
Defense lawyers are a necessary part of the judicial system. Having a balanced system of representation for both parties makes for a fair and just system, which is essential for democracy.