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August 29, 2023

Protecting Your Rights: The Role of a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in the Justice System

A criminal case has three primary roles: the judge, prosecution, and defense. The judge is the neutral party who hears the arguments of the opposing parties and uses his knowledge to issue legal decisions regarding a case. The prosecution builds a case and presents evidence to convict the accused of a crime. The defense makes the accused aware of their legal rights and advocates for them in court.

Below, we will focus on the role of a defense attorney in the criminal justice system and their duties to a defendant.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal defense attorney is responsible for providing a defendant (the suspect in a criminal case) with legal representation, as is their right by law. Being a criminal defense lawyer means defending individuals accused of committing crimes of varying levels, ranging from minor misdemeanors to felonies. 

The role of a criminal defense attorney is multi-faceted. They can sit on the first chair in a trial (as a lead attorney), offer assistance as a second-chair counsel, draft motions and pleadings, or run trials and motion hearings. 

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?

Here are some of the daily responsibilities of a criminal defense attorney:

  • Meet with Clients or Families of Clients: A person accused may contact a criminal defense attorney directly. In some cases, family members and concerned individuals hire an attorney on their behalf.  
  • Assess New Cases: A criminal defense lawyer must study each case thoroughly and explore the possible ways to solve a client’s problem, whether to offer a settlement to the prosecution or build a defense strategy to use in court. Even if the defendant is at fault and is legally subject to punishment by the law, it is the defense attorney’s job to try and reduce the sanctions ruled by the court.
  • Collect Information: A criminal case is built on information surrounding the circumstances leading to the incident for which the client is now being tried. As the prosecution does everything they can to prove the defendant’s guilt, the defense attorney does the opposite. Hence, a key role of a defense attorney in the criminal justice system is gathering information that would help build a strong defense that would counter the prosecution’s arguments. With this goal in mind, a defense attorney may do the following:
    • Find and Talk to Witnesses: Investigators interview witnesses at the scene. The prosecution can also use their resources to find witnesses and obtain credible statements. The 1957 Jencks’ Act states, however, that defendants can only obtain a prosecution witness’s prior statements after they have testified on direct examination at the trial. This puts pressure on the defense to find witnesses whose testimonies can support its case to prove the defendant’s innocence or reduce a pending conviction. As such, it is also the role of a criminal defense attorney to conduct a thorough and independent investigation, find witnesses, interview them, and obtain official statements that can be used for the defense.
    • Collect Evidence: When collecting information, it helps to return to the crime scene and collect proof and other valuable information they can use to strengthen their case. More importantly, defense attorneys ensure the collected evidence isn’t tampered with or manipulated to favor the prosecution. 
  • Research: A crucial part of building a case is finding statutes and old cases with a similar premise as the case on hand. It would greatly benefit the defense if they could present a similar case in which the court ruled in favor of the defendant. Having that precedent may help convince the jury or judge to decide in the defense’s favor.
  • Build a Defense: The most important role of a defense attorney in the criminal justice system is to build a strong case defending the accused against the crimes filed against them. All the investigative work, talking to witnesses, and collecting evidence culminate in crafting a winning defense against every accusation thrown at the defendant. 
  • Write Appeals: If the court convicts the defendant, the defense can still file an appeal to a higher court to reverse the ruling or reduce a client’s sentence. 
  • Meet and Negotiate with Prosecuting Attorneys: Another way to obtain a dismissal or reduce the charges filed against a client is to negotiate with the prosecution. Defense attorneys can meet with the opposite party to discuss options and negotiate with the prosecuting attorneys through a formal mediation. If the two parties agree, they can file for dismissal and save everyone the trouble of a court trial. 

Negotiating and offering a settlement may leave a bad taste in the mouth for some, but from the defense’s perspective, the defendant’s welfare is the priority. If they can foresee that going to court may not end well for their client, they must try and avoid it at all costs. A settlement in which the aggrieved party is compensated for their suffering is one way to do that. 

  • Update Clients on Important Appointments: Defendants are not always required to appear before the judge. Still, when the court does demand their presence, such as during their arraignment, they must be present to avoid additional sanctions or appearing in a bad light before the jury. The criminal defense attorney must ensure the client arrives at the appointed date and hour. Otherwise, the judge may issue a warrant for arrest when legally possible. As such, part of the criminal defense attorney’s job is to update clients about their hearing dates and other details on the progress of their case. 

Protect Your Rights as a Defendant: Call a Tucson Criminal Defense Attorney

Being a defendant is tough, but remember that the law recognizes a person’s innocence until he is proven guilty. People accused of crimes have the right to defend themselves, and criminal defense attorneys play the most important role. 

If you or someone you know faces criminal charges, it’s best to find a skilled Tucson criminal defense attorney with experience and credibility you can trust. 

Look no further than Katsarelis Law, a trusted criminal defense law practice in Tucson. We offer legal representation defending clients charged with assault and battery, DUI, drug crimes, domestic violence, and other felonies. Having practiced criminal defense law for 17 years, we have a proven record of providing reliable legal services and representing defendants with respect and compassion.

You can reach us at [email protected] or call (520) 510-0439 to schedule an appointment. 

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Don’t know where to start yet? It is necessary to find yourself a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer who will help you navigate through better. Speaking with an experienced assault attorney will explain to you the available options and assist you in getting the best possible outcome.

For any charges that need an attorney to help, reach us on 520-510-0439, 177 North Church Avenue, Suite 600, or send us a mail at [email protected]. Our crime attorneys in Arizona and Tucson are dedicated to helping clients achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases. We do this by negotiating with the government, preparing for trial, and litigating motions to suppress evidence. Assault is a serious crime that could result in jail time and other penalties. Let us help you avoid these consequences as much as possible.

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