Criminal defense lawyers sometimes get a not-so-flattering portrayal because people assume that they defend guilty people. However, if you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding, you need the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer, regardless of your guilt or innocence.
As the protectors and advocates of the accused, defense lawyers play a pivotal role justice system to see that everyone charged with a criminal act has an opportunity to defend themselves.
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Defense Lawyers Protect the Rights of the Accused
First and foremost, a criminal defense lawyer's role is to protect the rights of the accused. Upholding your rights under the Bill of Rights as set forth in the United States Constitution, criminal defense lawyers are bound by law to assist their clients by making sure you are treated fairly by the United States criminal justice system. Specifically, your criminal defense lawyer's job is to see that you are allowed:
- The right to a trial by a jury of your peers;
- The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt";
- The right to a speedy and public trial;
- The right to remain silent;
- The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; and
- The right to legal counsel.
All these rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and are applicable to all states through the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Supreme Court case opinions. As such, a criminal defense lawyer is obligated to provide clients with protection against the overreach of the government in meting out punishment to any individual accused of a criminal offense.