The Difference Between Civil And Criminal Attorneys
Criminal defense attorneys usually work in small partnerships or may be solo practitioners covering a set geographical region. Conversely, those attorneys who handle civil matters tend to be part of larger law firms – often with multiple branches in varying locations.
It is important to understand they different kinds of work they do:
- A civil attorney usually represents organizations and businesses who trade nationwide or internationally. On the other hand, criminal defense lawyers represent individual people whose problem usually have a local geographical base.
- Civil lawyers are often at the beckon call of large organizations as they have an ongoing and regular need for legal advice to operate their businesses. Comparably, those who are accused of a crime normally only require legal counsel that is sporadic or non-frequent.
It is common to find a private defense attorney possessing many years, (sometimes even decades) of career experience in governmental fields before commencing their private practice career. Their experience often includes being a prosecutor (in a role such as city or district attorney) or that of a public defender, appointed by the courts for those who cannot afford legal representation.
It Helps To Make A Local Choice
When your case as a defendant is pending in the local courthouse, it can really help to have an attorney on you side who has a working knowledge and in-depth experience of working in that courthouse as procedures can be different in different courthouses. It may be the case the District Attorney in one location has a policy of no-plea-bargaining in certain circumstances, but a District Attorney is a neighboring jurisdiction has no such policy in place. It is also likely if your attorney is local, they may also have knowledge of how prosecuting attorneys work as well as relationships with local law enforcement and how they usually deal with juries in cases that go to trial. You can see from this it is paramount defendants choose an attorney who has experience in dealing with the workings of the local judicial system.
Asking The Attorney About Their Experience
Criminal law is extraordinarily complex so you should definitely ask an attorney before retaining them what kind of experience they have dealing with your kind of case. The attorney should be able to give you concise answers to your questions. For example, if a person has been charged with a DUI, here are some questions the person should ask of their prospective attorney:
- What is your experience of dealing with clients who have been charged with a DUI?
- How much of your practices business involves the representation of those facing DUI charges?
- Do you have any certification as a specialist in DUI cases? (Some, but not all, states allow a certification)
- As a percentage how often do people from your practice appear in the court where my case is going to be handled?
Clearly, a defendant should not be put in a position where they have to compromise obtaining the services of a competent attorney in return for one with local experience.
The Confidence Factor
The defendant must have every confidence in their lawyer as it is the lawyer who speaks on their behalf. The best experiences are where both take part in the decisions that need to be made and the lawyer sees them as individual partners as opposed to just another load of paperwork in a file. With that in mind, ask yourself the following when considering retaining a lawyer:
- Is the attorney someone I feel at ease approaching, can speak with openly and feel comfortable working with?
- Does the attorney explain issues to me in a manner I can comprehend?
- Does the attorney express personal concern as well as a genuine desire to address my situation in a manner which is helpful?
- Does the lawyer consider my personal circumstances as opposed to just the charges I am facing?
- Does the attorney strike me as credible an can build trust with the judges, the prosecution as well as members of a jury?
Source: Bergman, Paul, and Ucla. “What to Look for in a Private Criminal Defense Attorney.” Www.nolo.com, Nolo, 9 May 2013, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-look-a-private-defense-attorney.html.
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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.