What Makes a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer
Becoming a criminal defense lawyer involves some of the most challenging and, sometimes, the most complex task of defending an accused person.. One can only dare to take up this area of law as the focus of their practice. The emotional highs and lows of criminal defense can definitely take a toll on a lawyer over time.
You may have watched some of those star lawyer's achievements through TV shows, newspapers, and magazines and wonder how do they manage to win such challenging cases almost always? In the real world, that stuff doesn't happen everyday. Its a grind. It takes perseverance and patience. The judicial system can be a cold and unforgiving arena of battle with harsh consequences for the criminal defendant if proven guilty. The full weight of the government and its never-ending pool of resources at its disposal, coming down on the head of the accused. The only person standing between the government and the defendant is his lawyer.
Becoming an accomplished criminal defense lawyer is no piece of cake. Aside from the years that they put on their chosen type of law practiced, they have certain characteristics that make them the star lawyers that they are.
So whether your objective is to find a top-class criminal attorney or to become one, this article is about the skills and characteristics that make up a good lawyer.
What makes up a good Alabama criminal defense lawyer?
- Knowledge of the criminal law
- Excellent communication skills
- Cares about the accused
- Ability to investigate
- Negotiation skills
Let's discuss these skills and characteristics of a defense attorney in a broader manner:
- Knowledge of the Criminal Law
It is the fundamental principle of becoming an expert criminal lawyer. Representing a defendant will involve a lot of challenges, and some of them might appear from absolutely nowhere!
Unless a lawyer has excellent knowledge of the criminal law, the defendant might have to give up on the hopes of winning the case.
Therefore, a criminal lawyer should have excellent command over the criminal code, criminal procedure, motor vehicle code, rules of evidence, municipal ordinances, sentencing act, and so on.
The state criminal code and sentencing guidelines are constantly changing. As a result, a criminal defense lawyer should also try to learn beyond the codes and acts. He should be able to present historical evidence of the same type of cases for proving the innocence of the defendant.
- Excellent Communication Skills
No matter how mysterious, aloof or fleeting the truth is, there are only two types of professionals who should never be denied the truth by their patient or client; a doctor and a lawyer. Since they fight on behalf of people, any misinformation or secret-keeping can lead to an irreplaceable loss.
Although people know how crucial it is, they often "forget" to provide some vital information to the lawyer. That's why a criminal defense lawyer should have excellent communication skills to extract data from their clients in a positive and non-threatening manner.
Proper and professionally courteous communication with the prosecutor and judge presiding over the case are critical factors in achieving the most beneficial outcome for a criminal defendant.
- Cares About the Accused
A criminal defense lawyer should put himself in the shoes of the defendant. Defendants are human beings. Human beings with feelings, dreams, concerns, apprehensions, hopes, and fears. Listening to a client and really hearing what he or she has to say is such an important and understated skill required to be a good lawyer. I genuinely care about what happens to my clients. I want them to get on with having a happy and productive life when their criminal case is completed.
The best criminal lawyers need to think from different perspectives and almost inevitably from the perspective of the defendant.
- Ability to Investigate
It might sound like the work of police or other prosecutors, but gathering information through personal investigation is a vital responsibility of a defense lawyer.
All of the knowledge, experience, intelligence, and efforts of a lawyer will go in vain if he can't find enough evidence, witness, and facts that matter to the case.
Since it makes the difference between success and failure, the best lawyers start gathering information right from the moment they take a case. They try to find out everything about the situation and tries to find any loopholes of laws regarding the matter.
Often this results in efficient clues or evidence through which they free their client.
As I've mentioned earlier, hiding anything from a doctor or a lawyer isn't an option for anyone. As people can forget to tell something that matters, they can hide some crucial details if they don't trust a lawyer entirely.
As they know, even the smallest details matter, the top defense lawyer always ensures confidentiality. It is a requirement in the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. They assure their clients that whatever secrets or details about a case they discuss with their lawyer, those secrets will be kept in confidence forever and ever. Those details are taken with the lawyer to the grave!
As a result, the accused shouldn't keep any secrets while talking with the lawyer. It provides a smooth flow of information and helps a lawyer to prepare a well-organized strategy.
- Negotiation Skills
A lawyer's negotiation skills operates in concert with a lawyer's excellent communication skills. There can be times when the plaintiff would want to settle for compensation instead of advancing further with the case. In a criminal case, perhaps a plea bargain of some sort would be most beneficial to the defendant. In a personal injury case, the ability of the plaintiff lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company's adjuster can make the difference financially to the plaintiff. It means putting more money in the injured person's pocket.
Confidence is a natural characteristic of a good defense lawyer. Why does it matter? Because the more confident a lawyer is, the more effective his/her argument will be in the court.
Apart from that, confidence will help the attorney to assure the defendant that nothing will happen to him/her. Often this leads to an excellent relationship between the lawyer and the defendant. That enables them to discuss the case to prepare for a smooth argument in the court. Lawyers are not magicians. We can't just wave a wand and make all of the bad evidence go away! But a good criminal defense lawyer knows the Rules of Evidence and criminal procedure and the criminal code. This can only help the criminal defendant insure the very best possible result in a criminal matter.
However, confidence doesn't mean that a lawyer can stay relaxed. That will be over-confidence and may result in missing one or two significantly essential pieces of evidence.
A good criminal defense lawyer knows that he needs to be a fearless and aggressive advocate for his client when facing criminal charges brought by the government. That doesn't mean that the lawyer behave in a disrespectful or angry manner. It means that he aggressively advocates for his client and fights tooth and nail for every benefit, rule, consideration, inference and objection that the law will allow. It means to be relentless in fighting for his client and working for the very best outcome for his client at all times.