What is Criminal Defense Law? How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer

 Criminal Defense Law

What is Criminal Defense Law?

Criminal defense law is sometimes simplified as criminal law, although it generally refers to situations from the defendant's perspective, meaning the defenses available to the defendant in a criminal proceeding. Criminal law provides the basis for determining whether a person has committed a crime or not. Just because someone is charged with a crime does not mean that they are automatically guilty. It only means that the arresting agency believes it has enough evidence to prove more likely than not that the person charged committed the crime accused.

The rules regarding what is or is not a crime are only part of criminal defense law. Criminal procedure, or the rules of how a court determines guilt, play a large part of criminal defense law. If a police officer or person working as an agent of a law enforcement body violates a protected right, then any evidence, subject to a few exceptions, that is found as a result of that violation will be excluded from being used at trial. That may seem like a slight penalty, but it prevents the evidence from being used to establish guilt. If the evidence cannot be used in court, then there is no incentive for law enforcement officials to break the law to find evidence. Ensuring that every trial is conducted fairly and legally is a large part of criminal defense law.

Governing Law

Some federal laws, such as drug bans and offenses involving goods or activities that cross state lines, apply to people living in all states. However, most laws that govern criminal acts are passed by each individual state. Each state creates its own laws determining what is and is not illegal. That being said, there is a movement to unify criminal law under one body that applies to all states. That body of law, called the Model Penal Code (MPC), has been accepted in some states, but not all. Among the states that have accepted the MPC, those states have accepted different parts of the MPC but still modify it with their case laws and codes. The Federal Rules of Evidence, which govern what may or may not be used as evidence against a criminal defendant, have been adopted in every state with very few, if any, major alterations.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

Even though a person may represent himself in a criminal case, hiring an attorney is very highly recommended. First, the fact that criminal law is not completely uniform requires a lawyer who knows your state’s laws and the local rules for the court presiding over the case. Second, the Rules of Evidence are so complex that it takes a lawyer to understand and apply them to your case. Third, procedure is very important in a criminal defense case, so having someone represent you who is familiar with those procedures can make or break your case.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

A good criminal defense attorney will be tenacious enough to fight on all viable issues that could prove your innocence. Preserving issues for appeal are a different matter. A good attorney will preserve the correct issues for appeal in the correct manner. The key traits of a good criminal defense attorney are discernment, analytical reasoning, respect, and congeniality. Being ethical in procedure also helps, since violations of procedure by defense counsel will only harm you as the client.

Remember though that criminal defense law includes a number of different crimes. Ideally, the law firm you chose will have experience in the crime you are charged with. Some states provide further specializations and certifications for criminal defense law firms that focus on areas such as drug enforcement defense, white collar crimes, and the like.

Criminal Defense Articles

General Categories of Criminal Defense: Most of the time, when people think about needing a law firm or an attorney, their minds jump to criminal defense law. After all, that's one of the worst case scenarios for most people...

Criminal Defense Blogs

  • Social Media: Source of Evidence for Lawyers

    There is no shortage of opportunity to communicate in the Internet Age. The Internet is open to all people, regardless of sex, race, political persuasion, or even age to some extent. A criminal defense law firm in New York can conference with a Phoen...

  • General Categories of Criminal Defense

    Most of the time, when people think about needing a law firm or an attorney, their minds jump to criminal defense law. After all, that’s one of the worst case scenarios for most people. Having a lawyer when you are being charged criminally is i...