Criminal lawyers are popularly known as defense lawyers and public defenders.  Their role is to defend the individuals, organizations and other entities against various charges enacted on them with a heinous crime.  As the term suggests, they handle diverse range of criminal cases that includes domestic violence, sex crimes, drug abuse cases, violence and driving under the influence of drug (DUI).  Furthermore, robbery, embezzlement, fraud and scams are also dealt by them frequently.  Such practices are part of their daily life and career path.


A law degree is a must to opt for a criminal lawyer.  Moreover, they have to pass the bar examination from the state they want to continue their practice from.  Nevertheless, NBLSC (National Board of Legal Specialty Certification) is an organization which is accredited with American Bar Association and conducts board certification for criminal attorneys.  It is a non-profit organization that is a part of National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Functions of Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers deal with the victims charged with criminal cases in state, federal and appellate courts.  Their practice involves bail bond hearings, revocation hearings which are on parole or probation, trial, plea bargains, post – conviction remedies and appeals.  Their chief functions involve:

  • Investigating the case and witnessing the interviews
  • Conducting the research for case law, statutes, procedural laws and crime codes
  • Putting up defense
  • Developing case strategies
  • Carrying negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains to minimal charges
  • Preparing the drafts, filing, Creating argue motions, suppressing the motions or dismissing them
  • Advocating for the defendants at trial

Skills required by Criminal Lawyer:

They should possess outstanding oral and written skills for advocacy which is essential to carry forward the arguments in front of the judge or to persuade a jury.  They should be outstanding in carrying investigations and research which is extremely important for fabricating a client’s case.  These skills also assist in establishing a well-built defense.  They should possess a critical thinking process and should pay heed on minute facts.  Their analytical skills help them to work on legal strategies well.  They should be able to analyze the case law and intricate cases exceptionally well.  They should possess an in-depth knowledge and understanding of state, federal and local laws, court procedures, local judges, evidentiary laws and navigating the criminal justice system competently.  Interpersonal skills help in building strong relationship with the clients.  Finally, they should possess an attraction to retain the clients to flourish their career.

Practice Environment

They either work privately, in a solo firm, in non-profit agencies or as public defenders for the government.  They work for long irregular hours and meet clients everywhere in courts, hospitals, prisons etc.  Criminal lawyers who practice nationwide have to travel a lot whereas travel is not mandatory for local practice.


Experienced criminal lawyers earn in six figures and usually represent high profile and wealthy defenders.  However, salaries vary greatly on size scale of practice and geographical locations of the firm.

Job Outlook and Breaking as Criminal Lawyer

Most of the criminal lawyers start their career as prosecutors or public defenders who are appointed by court to represent defendants.  Since crime rates are increasing and spiraling upwards, the scope of criminal lawyers is becoming bright day- by- day.