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Defense Lawyer


A defense lawyer is an attorney that represents an accused party in legal matters, including in a court of law. The accused party is known as the defendant, hence the name, defense lawyer. (the one accused)

Many defense lawyers start out as prosecutors for the state. The prosecutor is there as an agent of the state, acting in the interest of the victim, but not representing them directly. Criminal proceedings, where there is a prosecutor, don't have a plaintiff,  the state may  bring charges against the defendant is a public agency. If a party is charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire a private defense lawyer, the state will assign an attorney to represent the defendant. Though there are many talented state-appointed defense lawyer, accused parties with means usually hire their own defense lawyer

In a criminal proceeding, the job of the defense lawyer is to vigorously defend his or her client by using the law to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case. It is up to the prosecutor to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

The defense lawyer does not have to prove the innocence of his or her client, as the law dictates that a person is innocent by default until proven guilty. However, if evidence exists that can exonerate a client, it is up to the defense lawyer to bring this evidence out when possible.

While it is incumbent on a defense lawyer to vigorously represent the client, there are limits. A defense lawyer cannot knowingly place a witness on the stand to perpetrate a lie, nor can a defense lawyer knowingly lie to the court. For this reason, in high profile cases, it is not unusual that a defense lawyer will not want to know if the client is guilty. Without that absolute knowledge, the defense strategy can remain more flexible.

Conversely, depending on the circumstances, it might help a defense lawyer to know the truth in order to strategize a mitigation of punishment by presenting the case in the best possible light, making allowances where there is no plausible denial. This might be the case if there is undisputed truth of guilt.

Many of these cases are plea-bargained before they reach court or tried in hopes of getting a lesser sentence for the client, or even acquittal if there are sufficient mitigating circumstances.

In a civil proceeding, the job of a defense lawyer becomes tougher, because the threshold of guilt is lowered to a 51% preponderance of the evidence. Often, when defendants are found “not guilty” in criminal trials, the victims pursue civil remedies for financial restitution.

Civil courts do not hand down prison sentences.

While a prosecutor can make a respectable salary, a high profile defense lawyer is one of the most lucrative careers in law. Defendants with assets that face possible prison terms are willing to pay the best lawyers to ensure the greatest possible chance of avoiding prison. Cases that go on for months can cost defendants millions of dollars.

A high-profile defense lawyer is also often a celebrity due to the notoriety of their cases.





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