Why Criminal Defense Is About More Than Trials

Popular media has crafted an image of the modern criminal attorney that often contrasts with reality. In particular, criminal defense options include a lot more than fighting to win a case at trial. Anyone who is facing charges should be aware of what the differences are between fictional criminal law and reality. Here is what a criminal attorney's job actually looks like:


The early hearings in a case tend to be a defendant's best chance to walk away from it without any jail time or fines. This is when the prosecution has to explain to both the court and the defense why anyone should care. A criminal attorney can then try to rebut the claims. If the prosecution's case is weak, then the defense will ask the judge to dismiss or reduce the charges.

Oftentimes, even if the prosecution has a strong case, a lawyer will request a dismissal just to see if the judge is receptive. No attorney can promise you that this will work out, but this is usually the phase where it's worth a shot.


The vast majority of criminal convictions in the U.S. are the result of the plea bargaining process. If a prosecutor wants to wrap a case up quickly, they can negotiate with the defense. The prosecution will usually offer a lighter sentence than the one they expect to request at a trial. In exchange, the defendant pleads guilty.

Note that a prosecutor doesn't have to offer a plea deal. Likewise, a judge doesn't have to accept it even if the prosecutor and the criminal attorney are both okay with it.

However, your lawyer is required to inform you of every plea deal a prosecutor might offer. You will ultimately make the decision, but the attorney will tell you whether they believe it's a good deal.

Dealing With Police and Prosecutors

It's not unusual for a criminal attorney to work outside of courthouses and law offices. A particular area of interest is when the cops interview folks. It's a good idea to have a lawyer present to advise you about which questions to answer and how to go about it.

Notably, you don't have to be a named criminal defendant to have counsel present during interviews. Witnesses should also hire lawyers because the police can get funny ideas about how involved someone might have been with a case. Also, a prosecutor might decide to pressure you by threatening obstruction of justice charges if you don't cooperate. Having a lawyer present will at least ensure any abuses are noted so a judge can hear about them later.

Fore more information, contact a criminal attorney near you.