The Role of Defense Counsel

Criminal defense counsel defend people and organizations that have been charged with some type of crime at the local, state or federal level.

The scope of practice for defense counsel spans the entire legal process, including:

  • Bail bond hearings

  • Plea bargains

  • Trial

  • Revocation hearings

  • Appeals

  • Post conviction remedies

Common roles that defense counsel take include:

  • Investigating the case and interviewing all witnesses

  • Research pertinent case law, crime codes and statutes

  • Build defense and come up with effective case strategy

  • Negotiate with prosecutors to arrange plea bargain

  • Draft, file and argue motions to dismiss or motions to suppress

  • Advocate for the accused at trial

  • Cross examine prosecution witnesses

  • Interview and select jury

  • Draft, file and argue any appeals

Defense counsel or a defense attorney is hired or assigned to the accused after he or she has been charged with a crime. The defense counsel is the sole legal representative of the accused throughout the entire state or federal legal process.

One of the most important aspects of the US legal justice system is that the accused is not required to testify, as stated in the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution. The defense attorney serves as the representative of the accused in court. So, the accused does not have to speak or testify at all, but he or she still has the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses brought by the prosecution.

A defense counsel may be a public defender assigned to the case by the federal, state or local government. These lawyers work for the government and typically are appointed as defense counsel to clients who cannot afford to hire their own lawyer. In such cases, the legal fees for the public defender are paid by the government.

In a case where the accused can afford his or her own defense counsel, that person is responsible for all legal fees incurred during the case.

Tips About Criminal Defense Counsel

Much of the knowledge of the public about criminal defense law comes from television, which can lead to a number of misconceptions about the role of criminal defense counsel in a case. Some facts to keep in mind:

  • If the defendant tells his defense counsel that he did do the crime, the lawyer is not required to disclose this admission of guilt. The lawyer can urge the client to plead guilty, but the accused is protected from self-incrimination by the 5th Amendment.

  • Defense counsel can decline in private practice to represent a certain criminal.

  • The role of defense counsel is to be the accused’s advocate and try to clear that person of the charges in the case. But it is not his or her role to determine if the client is guilty or not. The prosecution must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

Massachusetts Defense Counsel

Anyone who has been charged with a crime in Massachusetts or in any other state should find defense counsel who is well versed in case law in that state or in that particular area of the law. The chances of having a successful defense in Massachusetts or in another local jurisdiction increase if you have defense counsel who is intimately familiar with the laws of that state, and also is familiar with the courts and judges in that particular area.

Need Criminal Defense Help?

For a Federal or Criminal Consultation, text me today at 1-617-905-1433 or use the form below for your consultation. I will offer you expert help and answer any specific questions you have about your case. I handle criminal defense cases throughout all areas of Massachusetts including Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Springfield, Quincy, Lowell, Worcester, Fall River and national for Federal matters.

Contact Information

Geoffrey G. Nathan Law Office
132 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

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