Criminal law or penal law is the body of law that relates to crime and punishment. A crime is any act or omission of an act in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Criminal law regulates the social conduct and behavior of persons and proscribes whatever is threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the health, safety, moral welfare of people and the property. Criminal law involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that has been classified as a crime. Criminal law includes the punishment of people who violate the laws by imprisonment, fine, forfeiture of property, etc.
Criminal lawyer also known as criminal defense lawyer is a lawyer specializing in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal activity. Most of them work in private practice or in a firm. Some work for non-profit agencies or for the government as public defenders. A public defender is an attorney appointed by the court to represent defendants who cannot afford a lawyer. Criminal lawyers handle a diverse range of criminal cases, ranging from domestic violence crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes, drug crimes, theft, embezzlement, fraud and various other crimes. Criminal lawyers serve as both an advisor and an advocate for their clients. Criminal lawyers represent the accused or defendants facing criminal charges in the trial courts as well as in the appellate courts.
The scope of a lawyer includes bail hearings, trial, revocation hearings (parole or probation), appeals and post-conviction remedies. It also includes plea bargaining on behalf of the accused. The work of a criminal lawyer includes study the case thoroughly, research case law, statutes and procedural law. A criminal lawyer has to build a strong defense and develop a case strategy. He has to draft, file and argue on behalf of the accused. A lawyer’s work also includes negotiating with the prosecution to plea bargain to lesser charges. A criminal lawyer also represents the accused at the appellate stages, if required. Criminal lawyers must have excellent oral and written advocacy skills in order to argue a client’s case before a judge and persuade a jury. Apart from it investigative and research skills are also important in building a client’s case and establishing a strong defense. A criminal defense lawyer is hired by an accused so as to protect his rights as if he does not engage one then he might unknowingly waive his rights and harm his own interests.
Similarly there is a criminal Prosecutor who is responsible for bringing a case against an accused person in a criminal trial. The burden of proof initially rests on the prosecutor, who must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because a criminal defendant is always considered to be innocent until proven guilty. So, in brief the job duties of a criminal lawyer include meeting with clients, examining witnesses or complainants, interacting with the police and district attorney or public prosecutor, researching case law and appearing in court on behalf of his client.