Criminal Defense Attorneys work to represent the accused and citizens who feel they may be accused of having committed crimes. The persecution seeks to have the court order punish for the accused while the criminal defense attorney seeks lessen the stress of the criminal justice process, attending police questioning sessions, researching the facts of the case, seeking bail for the accused, challenging the merits of the evidence presented by the prosecution and challenging the procedures of the police and the prosecution and if it is in the best interest of the accused to enter into a plea bargain with the prosecution.
Criminal Law and the Purposes of Punishment
Law in the united States can be divided into two major categories, civil law, and criminal. Civil law mediates disputes between individuals while criminal law deals with crimes, offenses against the government. Criminal laws involves the administration of punishments which are carried out for five reasons: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, restoration.
- Retribution refers to making the criminals suffer the theory being that people who break the law have in some way made others suffer so this punishment balances the scale.
- Deterrence means that the law makes an example of a law breakers so when the general populations sees what happens to the law breaker they will be discouraged from breaking the law.
- Incapacitation refers to protecting the public from the misdeeds of criminals by separating the criminal from the population. Death, banishment and prisons have been used to incapacitate criminals from being able to harm the population.
- Rehabilitation. The most positive and idealistic purpose of criminal punishment is rehabilitation which seeks to reform the individual to make the criminal give up criminal activity and behave as a valued member of society.
- Restitution. The victim oriented approach to punishment is restitution which seeks to restore to the victim the harm that was done by the criminal. When administering punishment the criminal justice system usually follows a mixture of several of these poses in any given case.
Duties and Services of Criminal Defense Attorneys
The job of a criminal defense lawyer is to (1) prove that the defendant did not commit a criminal act, or (2) allowing the act did occur but under the circumstances it was defensible. Finally, (3) if the defendant did commit a guilty act and could not raise a credible defense, to bring up mitigating circumstances, and perhaps enter in a plea bargain with the prosecution in an effort to lessen the charge and punishment.
There are several types of defenses that criminal defense attorneys may raise. That the act was a necessity to avoid a greater harm is a commonly accepted defense in many jurisdictions. Suppose a person sees a fire starting in a school that is out of session, breaks into the school and puts out the fire. The loss that would have occurred if they had not put out the fire would have been greater than the damage from breaking and entering. If a citizen is forced to commit a crime they may be able to offer a defense of duress, if the citizen was being threatened with death or great harm at the time.
Throughout the criminal justice process criminal defense attorneys work to protect the rights of the accused and ensure that the prosecution follows established procedures and legitimately proves their charges.