What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do? [9 Things]

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do? Here are 9 of the Most Important Things They Do.

A criminal defense lawyer does many things during the course of a criminal case. A criminal defense lawyer is responsible for defending a person charged with a crime. A criminal defense lawyer speaks on the client’s behalf. The criminal defense lawyer investigates the case to help build a strong and compelling defense for the case.

1.) Attorney Assignment of the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer may be contacted directly by the defendant or may be assigned the case by the court by a public defender. Many criminal defense lawyers are public defenders who are paid by the public defender’s office. They are appointed cases by local, state or federal courts. Other criminal defense lawyers are hired by private law firms. Some criminal defense lawyers have an independent law office that they manage themselves. Public defenders tend to be paid a lower salary than private lawyers and also tend to have a higher work load due to the referral process and the pay coming from individuals other than defendants. In some cases private lawyers take on pro bono work by representing appointed cases from the public defender’s office.

2.) The Attorney Interview about the Criminal Case

Once the criminal defense lawyer has the opportunity to meet personally with the client, they will try to get as many details about the case as possible. By asking pointed questions about the case, they can learn about possible defense strengths and weaknesses about the case. This requires a careful and thorough questioning of the defendant and thorough examination of details by the criminal defense lawyer.

3.) Attorney Investigation into the Criminal Case

In addition to asking the criminal defendant pointed questions about the case, they must further investigate the case to determine any possible avenues of acquitting the defendant. This often includes questioning police about the procedures that they used in related to the case. It may also include talking to witnesses who have information about the case and collecting information about the case. All of this information is used to try to build a strong and compelling defense for the case. If an expert witness is used in the case, the criminal defense lawyer may interview them about the testimony they may provide and the evidence that may be presented.

A criminal defense lawyer has the right to review the prosecution’s case before it is submitted to the jury. This allows him or her to find any holes in the case against the defendant and to try to find evidence that may refute the prosecutor’s case, such as hiring an independent laboratory or expert to test evidence in the case. The criminal defense lawyer may also hire a private investigator to find further information.

4.) Attorney Analysis of Evidence in the Criminal Case

Analyzing the evidence against a criminal defendant requires the criminal defense lawyer to carefully study the details of the case. They may have evidence independently tested. Additionally, they may examine the evidence to determine if there are any legal theories that work against the conviction of his or her client.

5.) Continued Attorney-Client Communication

A criminal defense lawyer must stay in contact with his or her client to explain any developments in the case and to keep him or her informed about the case. The lawyer must ensure that conversations with the client are kept confidential. The lawyer must also ensure that they communicate information about the case to the client so that they have a better understanding of the possible consequences.

6.) Trial Jury Selection in the Criminal Case

If it’s decided for the case to go to trial a criminal defense lawyer assists with the jury selection process. They may try to have jurors removed for cause if they may be biased against the defendant or even if they simply have a bad feeling about a potential juror.

7.) Plea Bargaining in the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer is also responsible for talking about the status of the case and negotiating with the prosecutor regarding any particular plea bargain. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help secure a favorable deal for the defendant that result in a reduction of charges or the possible punishment. It may also lead to a dismissal of the original charge to a lesser charge.

8.) Attorney Trial Participation in the Criminal Case

A criminal defense lawyer fights for his or her client during the trial. The criminal defense attorney examines witnesses, cross-examines the state’s witnesses and tries to convince the jury that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof.

9.) Sentencing in the Criminal Case

If the criminal defendant is sentenced for the crime either because they accepted a plea bargain or was convicted by the judge or jury, a criminal defense lawyer can represent the defendant during the sentencing phase. The criminal defense lawyer may discuss important factors that can help convince the judge or jury to limit the amount of time that the defendant serves and to discuss possible alternatives to incarceration.


In summary the criminal defense lawyer is assigned the case, interviews the client, investigates the case, and analyzes evidence. During this process the lawyer continues communication with the client and decides with the client on whether to take the case to trial or plea bargain. If there is a trial the criminal defense lawyer assists in selecting jury, cross-examines witnesses and tries to convince the jury for their case. If a plea bargain is decided the attorney tries to limit the extent of the punishment by either discussing dismissal of the charge or reducing the charge. 

9 of the Most Important Things Criminal Defense Lawyers Do.

9 of the Most Important Things Criminal Defense Lawyers Do.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Greene has the Experience to Help You

Michael Greene, Attorney at Law

Attorney Michael Greene graduated law school from Atlanta's John Marshall Law in 1993 and has vast experience as a criminal defense lawyer. He will look to solve your case as quickly as possible and will seek to reduce or dismiss the charges. Let’s work together so Attorney Michael Greene can start building a strong and compelling case on your behalf. Contact us for a free consultation.

Contact us