The criminal justice system is certainly complex, and there’s no shortage of misconceptions floating around out there (thanks, in no small part, to TV shows such as Law and Order!). To understand the role of a criminal defense lawyer, things can get a little convoluted – not many people outside the legal sphere fully understand what a criminal defense lawyer does, exactly, so you certainly wouldn’t be at fault for not grasping it, either!
Here are the most important things to know about who a criminal defense lawyer is, and what they do:
Criminal defense attorneys do not have to disclose a client’s guilty confession. That’s right – if a given defendant confesses to a crime, their criminal defense attorney does not have to divulge this information. That’s because the defendant has full immunity and protection under the Fifth Amendment – all lawyers are bound to adhere to this, regardless of a confession of guilt.
Criminal defense lawyers are advocates. Even the accused are privy to receiving legal representation. The role of a criminal defense lawyer is to be an advocate for their client, no matter what – this is a right guaranteed by our Constitution. This doesn’t mean that criminal lawyers must determine whether their client is innocent, but it does mean that they are responsible for their fair representation in court.
Criminal defense attorneys are advisors. It’s up to the criminal defense attorney to act as an advisor for their client – this entails coaching them on their decisions and how, exactly, their defense will be handled. It is the criminal lawyer’s job to make sure their client fully understands the consequences of all decisions that occur during the proceedings.
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