In the world of jurisprudence, a criminal attorney - particularly a criminal defense attorney – has an incredibly important position. They are often vilified during a court trial – especially if the crime involved an innocent victim – but it is critical that the defense has legal guidance during a trial. Even if the defendant is guilty and there is mounting evidence, a criminal defense attorney can either poke holes in the case – to the point where the jury must acquit – or an attorney can help spare his or her client’s life if the death penalty or life in prison is on the table. These are just some of the responsibilities of a criminal defense attorney. Here are some duties of a criminal defense attorney.
- Provide a reasonable defense for his or her client. One of the most important duties of a criminal defense attorney is to provide a reasonable defense. This requires finding witnesses, building evidence, speaking with different people and trying to paint a clearer picture of the client’s innocence. If a lawyer can prove their client’s innocence – beyond a reasonable doubt – he or she has done a good job.
- Client confidentiality. Of course, confidentiality is a huge responsibility for a lawyer. However, there are guidelines and laws regarding confidentiality. If the client admits that he or she committed a certain act, you are not required to say anything about it – it could harm your client’s chances in court. However, if your client threatens to cause harm to another person, you are required to tell the authorities. The same goes if the client intends to harm himself or herself.
- Respect the client’s guidelines. When you represent a client, he or she may have certain recommendations and guidelines. Remember: you are working for your client, so whatever your client says you should do, you should do. Of course, you can advise against certain actions, but if a client doesn’t want you to say or do anything in court, you want to omit your actions from the defense strategy. Not only is this an ethics issue – you can also be dismissed or fired from the case if you don’t respect your client’s wishes.
- Lawyers must abide by the law. Yes, this may seem obvious, but one of the most important duties and responsibilities of a lawyer is to follow the law when representing a client. It is not okay to lie or bend the truth in favor of your client. You cannot batter witnesses. You cannot intimidate witnesses or persuade them to not take the stand. All of these things are illegal and you can be disbarred.
- Abide by the decorum of the firm he or she represents. If a lawyer works for a certain firm – like Banks and Banks, Attorneys at Law, P.C. - it is important to conduct your duties in line with the decorum of the firm. Anything you do in court will reflect against the firm you work for, so you don’t want to hurt your reputation by doing anything that could damage the image or name of your firm.