The role of a criminal defense lawyer is totally unlike that depicted in television shows and movies because the courtroom dramas are entirely different. The dramatizations which are seen by people have often led to misconceptions about the system of criminal justice. They have also created uncertainties about what the role of a criminal defense lawyer is.
Quite a few aspects of the criminal law is not understood by people and this is perhaps the reason why the role of a criminal defense lawyer is also misunderstood. A criminal defense lawyer is supposed to work as an advocate for the defendant who may have been accused of breaking the law. The lawyer alsobhas certain obligations which he or she must follow regardless of whether the defendant is proclaimed guilty or innocent.
What are the obligations imposed on a criminal defense lawyer?
Criminal defense lawyers are obliged to keep all information provided to them by the defendant confidential even if the defendant has admitted his or her guilt to the accusations made against them.
The admission of guilt made by the defendant may not be disclosed either to the court or to any other individual.
The criminal defense lawyer has the option to advise the defendant to change the plea they made to guilty but the accused will have immunity from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The criminal defense lawyer is bound by the confidentiality agreement they have with the accused not to reveal any statements they made.
The criminal defense lawyer has a responsibility to be an advocate for the accused and to do everything within the ambit of the law to clear the defendant of the charges he or she has been accused. The lawyer is not responsible to determine the innocence or the guilt of the accused.
The responsibility of proving the accused guilty rests on the prosecution that has to prove beyond reasonable doubt. While the ultimate decision rests with the judge or the jury to decide whether the accused is guilty or not after hearing the evidence presented by both the criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution.
Exceptions Available to Criminal Defense Lawyers
A criminal defense lawyer who is indulging in private practice may decide whether to accept or reject a particular case. Criminal defense lawyers have the option of refusing to defend an accused in a crime.
However, the Constitution provides the accused the right to legal counsel and a lawyer appointed by the court can represent the defendants who may be unable to bear the costs of legal representation.
The job of a criminal defense lawyer is to advise the defendant about various decisions that he or she may make and provide information about how the defense will be handled. The criminal defense lawyer must also ensure that the defendant fully understands the consequences of the decisions they may have made but the responsibility of making the decisions is up to the defendant who is also required to bear the consequences.
Defendants who are accused of any crime should understand from the onset of their case that they are likely to face the consequences if they provide false information or try to believe the dramatizations which they may have seen in the movies or the TV because a criminal defense attorney is just as human as they are.
The attorney is assigned a job which he or she is required to do to the best of their ability. Criminal defense attorneys are not magicians as they are made out to be in some of the depictions which are normally seen by people. Mistakes committed by the defendant will only take them to their consequences faster and make it difficult for the attorney to defend them in an effective manner.
In order to ensure justice within the society, a defendant must be represented by a competent criminal defense lawyer who fulfills his or her duties towards the defendant. Every lawyer is sworn to uphold the code of professional responsibility which requires them to represent the defendant according to the provisions of the law and in full confidentiality.