Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do criminal lawyers get to pick which cases they represent?

I don't know for how long, I've considered going to college to become a criminal lawyer. But I was talking to my friend the other day and she too had thought about it. But she said that she changed her mind because even if you don't believe the person is guilty or innocent, you HAVE to represent them. Truly I don't want to be put in that situation if that is the case. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could help me out, thanks :).Do criminal lawyers get to pick which cases they represent?
Most law school graduates aspiring to practice criminal law do so initially in either a District Attorney's office (county prosecutor) or a public interest criminal defense organization such as the county public defender's office or Legal Aid Society. This is because most firms specializing in criminal law do not hire on a regular basis and many do not hire inexperienced attorneys.

If you work in a District Attorney's office you wont have to worry about defending anyone since your role will be that of the prosecutor. If you work as a public defender, or a Legal Aid Society criminal defense lawyer, you are not going to have much discretion in the cases you take. They are assigned to you and while occasionally you may be able to get a case reassigned if it is particularly offensive to you for personal reasons that you believe would impede your ability to provide the defendant with zealous defense, for the most part you have to take your cases as you receive them. If you work for private practice at a law firm, your cases are also going to be assigned to you by a partner, and you are not going to have enough discretion in accepting assignments to ensure that you wont have to represent a guilty client.

Even if you decide to become a solo practitioner, there is no guarantee that you wont have to represent a guilty client. In criminal defense law clients constantly lie to their attorneys, sometimes even when they are innocent which makes it difficult for the attorney to ascertain their actual guilt which means that sometimes you may be representing a client that you think is guilty who is actually innocent and other times you may be representing a client who you think is innocent but is actually guilty.

Additionally, if criminal defense is part of your practice as a soloist, the courts may occasionally assign you represent a defendant pro bono and you generally don't have a right to decline the assignment.

In general, if you have a problem with representing clients that may be guilty of the crimes with which they are charged, it is probably not a good idea to be a criminal defense lawyer. Very few defendants that go into the criminal court system are completely innocent and it is highly unlikely that you will be able to make a living specializing in criminal defense law by representing only those potential clients who you believe are innocent.Do criminal lawyers get to pick which cases they represent?
that's what our court system is based represent guilty people too. everyone has a lawyer, granted if you have money you have a better lawyer than a court appointed one, but nevertheless some legal representation.

perhaps family law is more in line with your feelings.

one thing a criminal lawyer does not want to hear from their client is ';yes i did it'; then they are limited to the defense. they can not put their client on the stand to testify if they know ahead of time they will purger themselves. so you might know in your heart they are guilty

but you won't really ask them...does, that make sense.

you need to study the law a little and see if that's what you really want to do.

good luck
My understanding is that legal representation is ';forced'; in only 2 situations: if your employing firm assigns you the case, or you're a public defender and it's your turn in the rotation/you're available.

Not that I would recommend this, but I do not know the ramifications of leaving the employment position if you found the case too objectionable...
If you work for a firm and they assign you the case, or if you become a public defender then yeah, you'd be stuck.

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