What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do? 9 Points

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?

Criminal defense lawyers defend, speak for, and investigates on behalf of the client during a criminal case. Here are 9 important and explainations of a criminal defense lawyer.

1.) Attorney Assignment of the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer may be contacted directly by the defendant or may be assigned the case by the court by a public defender. Many criminal defense lawyers are public defenders who are paid by the public defender’s office. They are appointed cases by local, state, or federal courts. Private law firms hire other criminal defense lawyers. Some criminal defense lawyers have an independent law office that they manage themselves. Public defenders tend to be paid a lower salary than private lawyers and also tend to have a higher workload due to the referral process and the pay coming from individuals other than defendants. In some cases, private lawyers take on pro bono work by representing appointed cases from the public defender’s office. 

2.) The Attorney Interview about the Criminal Case

Once the criminal defense lawyer has the opportunity to meet personally with the client, they will try to get as many details about the case as possible. By asking pointed questions about the case, they can learn about possible defense strengths and weaknesses about the case. Questioning requires a careful and thorough questioning of the defendant and a thorough examination of details by the criminal defense lawyer. 

3.) Attorney Investigation into the Criminal Case

In addition to asking the criminal defendant pointed questions about the case, they must further investigate the case to determine any possible avenues of acquitting the defendant. Investigating other avenues often includes questioning police about the procedures that they used about the case. It may also include talking to witnesses who have information about the case and collecting information about the case. All of this information used to try to build a strong and compelling defense for the case. If an expert witness used in the case, the criminal defense lawyer may interview them about the testimony they may provide and the evidence that may be presented. A criminal defense lawyer has the right to review the prosecution’s case before submitted to the jury. Reviewing the prosecution’s case allows him or her to find any holes in the case against the defendant and to try to find evidence that may refute the prosecutor’s case, such as hiring an independent laboratory or expert to test evidence in the case. The criminal defense lawyer may also hire a private investigator to find further information. 

4.) Attorney Analysis of Evidence in the Criminal Case

Analyzing the evidence against a criminal defendant requires the criminal defense lawyer to carefully study the details of the case. They may have evidence independently tested. Additionally, they may examine the evidence to determine if there are any legal theories that work against the conviction of his or her client. 

5.) Continued Attorney-Client Communication

Criminal defense lawyers must stay in contact with his or her client to explain any developments in the case. Staying in contact is important to keep him or she informed about the case. The lawyer must ensure that conversations with the client are kept confidential. The lawyer must also ensure that they communicate information about the case to the client so that they have a better understanding of the possible consequences. 

6.) Trial Jury Selection in the Criminal Case

If it is decided for the case to go to trial, a criminal defense lawyer assists with the jury selection process. They may try to have jurors removed for cause if they may be biased against the defendant or even if they have a bad feeling about a potential juror. 

7.) Plea Bargaining in the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer is also responsible for talking about the status of the case and negotiating with the prosecutor regarding any particular plea bargain. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help secure a favorable deal for the defendant that result in a reduction of charges or the possible punishment. It may also lead to a dismissal of the original charge to a lesser charge. 

8.) Attorney Trial Participation in the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer fights for his or her client during the trial. The criminal defense attorney examines witnesses, cross-examines the state’s witnesses, and tries to convince the jury that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof.

9.) Sentencing in the Criminal Case

If the criminal defendant is sentenced for the crime either because they accepted a plea bargain or convicted by the judge or jury, a criminal defense lawyer can represent the defendant during the sentencing phase. The criminal defense lawyer may discuss important factors that can help convince the judge or jury to limit the amount of time that the defendant serves and to discuss possible alternatives to incarceration. 


In summary, the criminal defense lawyer is assigned the case, interviews the client, investigates the case, and analyzes evidence. During the process, the lawyer continues communication with the client. The lawyer also decides with the client on whether to take the case to trial or plea bargain. If there is a trial, the criminal defense lawyer assists in selecting the jury to cross-examine witnesses and try to convince the jury for their case. If the plea bargain is agreed upon, the attorney tries to limit the extent of the punishment. Limiting the extent of the punishment is done by either discussing dismissal of the charge or reducing the charge. 

Author: LegalPeak