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What is a Criminal Attorney and Why You May Need One

What is a Criminal Attorney and Why You May Need One

The law is a diverse field with multiple specialties based on specific kinds of cases. And a criminal attorney is just one of the options available. But what exactly does a criminal lawyer do? The answer is both simple and complex, depending on your perspective.

The Basics

A criminal attorney also referred to as a criminal defense lawyer or public defender, is a lawyer that focuses on the defense of individuals and organizations that have been charged with a particular crime. Criminal attorneys focus on understanding the law regarding specific kinds of criminal charges and work to assert the defendant’s innocence or ensure that only appropriate charges are brought forward. They can also work with the prosecution to reach a deal, referred to as a plea bargain, should the defendant wish to plead guilty and/or avoid a court case.

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Like other legal specialties, criminal lawyers must obtain a law degree and successfully pass the Bar exam in the state where they intend to practice. Additionally, board certifications are available but are not required. Once they accept a case, they research the available information, interview witnesses, research case law and applicable statutes, laws, and regulations, and then create a defense strategy. They also speak on behalf of the defendant during the trial, serving as their advocate. Criminal attorneys can also draft and file appeals.

The Working Environment

Criminal lawyers may work in a variety of environments. Most commonly, they work as part of a private practice or operate a solo firm. In some cases, defense attorneys work for non-profit organizations and even government agencies. Aside from maintaining office hours, they also meet defendants at courthouses, hospitals, and even prisons to help solidify their case.

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It isn’t uncommon for criminal lawyers to begin their careers on the other side, working for the prosecutor’s office. Some start out on the defense side, but work for non-profits or provide services as a public defender. However, it is not required to begin your career in such a fashion, but it can help you build the skills and reputation necessary to successfully transition into criminal defense.

Criminal Law Specialties

While criminal law is a specialty in its own right, there are subspecialties within the field. Some attorneys focus on defending specific kinds of criminal charges, such as domestic violence, sex crimes, violent crimes, drug offenses, thefts, and fraud. Others practice more generally, though may functionally end up specializing if their reputation in a particular area grows strong.

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Clients

Criminal attorneys may defend people who were wrongly accused as well as those who may be guilty. The opposite can happen when serving as a prosecutor. Regardless of the defendant’s guilt or innocence, it is important that a criminal lawyer always does their best work for their client. The right to a competent attorney is a critical part of the overall legal process, and this requires that each attorney takes their responsibilities seriously.

Additionally, the attorney and client are able to operate with “attorney-client privilege.” This allows the client to speak freely with their attorney without the attorney being required to disclose any of the information regardless of how it pertains to the client’s guilt or innocence.

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However, it is also the attorney’s job to advise their clients on the best course of action. If a client is guilty, it may be wise to arrange a plea bargain instead of going to trial and risking a guilty verdict. Even if that is the case, it is ultimately the criminal lawyer’s job to adhere to the wishes of their clients. That means, should the client insist on entering a not guilty plea and moving forward with a trial, then the attorney must act accordingly.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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