The role of a criminal defense lawyer starts long before he ever goes to trial in a courtroom. He needs to thoroughly understand all of the details of the client’s case. There are some big law firms that have investigators on retainer who interview state’s witnesses and the accused’s potential witnesses. Our lawyers do the work themselves and also analyze the police reports and crime scenes. After collecting all of the information, it is the responsibility of the defense attorney to determine the odds of conviction or acquittal for the client, and start to plan how to best present their case in court.
Criminal defense lawyers have a wide range of legal responsibilities. In general, they are required to keep communications between their clients and themselves confidential. Their clients are owed an aggressive defense, but they have duties to courts as well to present all of their defenses honestly. Conflicts of interest must also be avoided by criminal defense attorneys, which usually means they are unable to represent multiple parties that relate to the same criminal issue.
Generally speaking, criminal defense attorneys are required to maintain privacy, or privilege, in regards to attorney-client communications. Privilege makes it possible for clients to talk to their attorneys safely without having to be afraid of reprisals. However, there are some exceptions. Privilege isn’t applicable if an attorney’s advice is used by a client to commit crimes. In general, attorneys can break privilege under a court order or to prevent bodily injuries or deaths. Clients can also waive their privilege rights. Also, when a client dies, past attorney-client communications normally lose their privileged status.
Criminal defense lawyers are responsible for aggressively representing their clients by taking every reasonable step possible to prepare a strong defense. The attorney must collect facts, research case statuses and precedents, interview witnesses, and review subpoena documents and police reports. Lawyers can also ask the court to consider novel and new interpretations of current law to support the interests of their clients. Lawyers need to prepare strong arguments for juries and judges and question witnesses at trial.
Criminal defense lawyers have an obligation when representing a client to avoid conflicts of interest. For example, if multiple accountants get accused of criminal fraud they might include trying to shift blame to each other as part of their defense. One client cannot be implicated by an attorney to help another client. Attorneys can also ensure that conflicts are not created by past clients in current cases. For example, a lawyer might not be able to attack a witness adequately if the two shared an attorney-client relationship previously.
Like all attorneys, a criminal defense lawyer is an offer of the court. They owe a duty of candor to juries and judges. He cannot knowingly make untruthful representations to courts. Whenever lawyers are communicating with courts, they are required to be honest. They are not allowed to support clients who have committed perjury. Lawyers are required to take reasonable steps in order to remedy any known perjury made by clients, which can include breaking attorney-client privilege lawfully to report it.