Young lawyers are often full of hope and knowledge. Many got into this profession so they could help others. There are a few interesting facts that all young lawyers should know. Many of these have to do with the role of attorneys in the criminal justice system. If you’re someone who’s interested in the criminal justice system or a career as a criminal attorney, you should know a few points. These may help you understand how to be a better criminal defense attorney as you represent defendants.
Starting Law Firm Matters
One mistake that some new lawyers make is that they work for whatever law firm wants to hire them. While the desire to jump right to work is admirable, all young lawyers must ensure they’re working for the most reputable firm possible. The firm you start with can give you a lot of clout. You need to look at the structure of the firm to ensure you’ll have room for growth if you accept a position there. You should also factor in the contract you’ll sign. Things like non-compete agreements could make it hard to walk away from the firm if you find you aren’t a good fit for it.
Learn the Ways of Your Home Court
Each court handles things differently. Your home court, which is the one you’ll likely practice in the most, is the one you should focus on. Pay attention to how each judge handles specific matters. Some judges set personal precedents for specific matters. For example, one judge may have a set sentence for anyone convicted of a failure to appear or driving on a suspended license. Knowing these intricacies of your home court is beneficial so you know how to handle things for your clients. Remember that different court types are also different. A criminal matter in a state court is handled much differently than one in a federal court. This can have a direct impact on the way you present a case.
In most cases, federal courts have much stricter standards than municipal or district courts. These prosecutors usually have vast resources that some defense attorneys don’t have. Consider this point: In federal court, the incarceration rate of defendants who have private attorneys is 77%; however, the incarceration rate is 88% for those who have to use public defenders. That difference may be attributable to the severely limited resources of lawyers who are publicly funded.
Firearm Ownership Depends on Individual States
Firearm ownership is often a challenging topic for citizens. Some states have a permitless carry precedent that makes it easy for people to carry a firearm. This doesn’t mean that anyone can have one. Typically, these states require a person to be at least 21 years old to lawfully carry. Additionally, the individual must not have anything on their record that would make them prohibited from being able to legally carry a firearm.
Public Defenders Don’t Have Great Track Records
Some criminal defense attorneys will work as public defenders to gain experience with trial law and other aspects of the criminal justice system. This is a good idea for some. However, remember that public defenders are sometimes viewed as minimally effective. Around 28% of states in this country use public defenders to provide legal counsel for many individuals, so these offices are often very busy, understaffed, and poorly funded.
Ultimately, you have to decide how you’re going to handle your legal career. As a young attorney and entrepreneur, you have seemingly endless possibilities for creating the career you want. You just have to put your mind to it and make it happen.