Unlike Civil Law, which involves private law suits between two or more private entities, Criminal Law Attorneys represent clients who are being prosecuted by the state or federal government for an act that has been classified as a crime. With the exception of strict liability crimes, most crimes consist of three elements: an act (actus reus), a mental state (mens rea) and the intent to do social harm. Crimes are classified as misdemeanors–less serious offenses that are normally punishable by a fine like some traffic violations, petty theft, or possession of a small amount of marijuana, and felonies–more serious offenses that warrant imprisonment of one or more years, such as rape, grand theft, assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, or homicide/murder.
In Criminal Law Attorney, the suit is initiated by the state or federal government through a prosecutor rather than being initiated by the victim, as it is in civil law. Plaintiffs in a civil law suit only need to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is 51% or more liable (responsible) for the damages. But, the prosecutor in a criminal law case has to prove to the judge or jury “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged..
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Criminal charges may bring you a number of troubles including hefty fines, severe penalties and drastic impacts on social, personal and professional life. And, to avoid all such undesirable consequences, one seeks the legal guidance of a criminal defense attorney who knows the legal system well and can help in lowering the penalties or dismissing the charges. However there are many clients or prospective clients who don’t have a clear idea about the actual roles and responsibilities of a criminal defense lawyer. Criminal defense is a challenging area of law and protecting the rights and interests of defendants requires substantial skills and expertise.
Have a look at the roles and responsibilities of a competent and reliable criminal defense lawyer:
A good criminal defense attorney must assess the case thoroughly, taking into account all the aspects of the case. Even if the defendant is at fault, the attorney must handle the case smartly, suggesting measures to tackle the problem.
It’s important to collect as much information as possible about the case. It’s a good idea to visit the scene of crime for collecting proof or other valuable information which can strengthen the case. If there are witnesses, the attorney must talk to them and gather information. A defense attorney must work extensively to collect evidences and protect them from being manipulated.
A criminal defense attorney may have to appear at the court several times. This must be done promptly, without any delay. Also, the attorney must keep his client updated about the progress of the case.
A criminal defense lawyer must have a good knowledge about the laws and appeals that should be used to protect the client’s interest. He should have in-depth knowledge of the individual’s rights and must emphasize on them while dealing with the prosecution.
Your attorney must be capable of analyzing and judging the situation well. His responsibility includes identifying the loopholes in the prosecution’s case and figuring out smart strategies to support the defendant and get his charges dismissed or lowered.
A defense attorney may have fluctuating working hours. He may need to attend situations and proceedings of the cases at unexpected time and ideally he must be prepared and willing to devote himself to his duties. He must be capable of handling stressful situations.
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