You watched a few episodes of Law and Order. Now you think you know a thing or two about what a drug lawyer does. You might even think you can hold your own in a courtroom if it came down to it.
Slow down there, Lone Ranger. Unless you’ve got a spare $10,000 and two years to spare in state jail (the minimum charge for penalty group 1 drugs) you may want to consider that attorneys know what they’re doing.
Keep reading to find out how a drug lawyer helps save you some serious time (and moolah.)
What is a Drug Lawyer?
Well, technically, they’re not called drug lawyers. The correct term is a criminal defense attorney.
They don’t just work drug-related cases either – criminal defense attorneys cover a range of criminal charges from fraud to domestic violence to sex trafficking to theft.
Put it this way. If you can break a law by doing something, a criminal defense attorney is who you’ll call to defend you.
The Job Description
Criminal defense attorneys cover cases in state, federal and appellate courts. And although the fun parts of Law and Order focus on the criminal trial itself, the scope of a criminal defense lawyer’s duties isn’t limited to the courtroom.
They’re responsible for all parts of your legal defense from before the trial all the way to the end (sometimes even after the trial has been concluded.) These duties include:
- Researching case law, statutes, and criminal law
- Investigating the case and interviewing witnesses
- Build a case strategy
- Build a case on your behalf
- Negotiate with the prosecution, including plea bargains
- Draft, file and argue motions in court
- Advocate for the defendant during a trial
- Draft, file and argue appeals
As we mentioned, they’re also involved in other aspects of criminal law beyond the initial trial, including bail bond hearings before the trial, revocation hearings (also known as parole hearings) and various post-conviction remedies.
A drug lawyer, in particular, is connected to criminal cases related to drug charges.
We mentioned penalty group 1 drugs before (cocaine, heroin, etc.) Bear in mind that some drugs are classed differently depending on location (some places, for example, have decriminalized marijuana.) It’s up to your attorney to know precedents and all the existing law for relevant locations in your case.
Some criminal defense attorneys also have special duties depending on the case – the American Bar Association, for example, specifically highlights death penalty cases in their standards for criminal defense attorneys.
Thinking of becoming a drug lawyer? Good for you!
Real talk, though: this isn’t exactly a breeze. There are a few skills you absolutely must have to be a good criminal defense attorney.
First and foremost is that you must be a talented persuader in written and oral arguments. Know how smooth the guys and gals on the cop shows are? Yeah, like that, but better.
You should also be a gifted (and patient) researcher. As in, willing to spend hours digging through the maze of local, state and federal laws, evidentiary laws, court rules, and the ins and outs of local judges, all to navigate the criminal justice system competently.
Oh, and you’re going to also spend a lot of time researching your client’s case.
You’re going to need every useful bit of information you can get your hands on because you’re going to use a lot of creative and analytical thinking to figure out how best to defend your client.
Especially in complex cases. The kind that people dread getting called to jury duty for.
A drug lawyer (or good old fashioned criminal defense attorney) isn’t all that different from any other lawyer.
Like we said, being a lawyer isn’t a breeze. More like a gale-force wind. That’s why there are so many jokes about how awful law school is.
Like all lawyers, criminal defense lawyers must take the LSAT, go to law school, obtain a law degree in their pertinent area of law, and, if they have any strength left at all, pass the bar exam in the state where they intend to practice.
Just getting started on your lawyer journey? We’ve got a 5-step guide for that.
How a Drug Lawyer Can Help
By helping you not go to jail for making unfortunate life choices.
Actually though, if you find yourself facing criminal charges for something you may or may not have done, hiring a criminal defense attorney could be the decision that helps save you from a whopping mess.
For example, your attorney can help you figure out the appropriate sentencing program – in other words, they may be able to negotiate so that you don’t wind up back in the justice system.
Dealing with emotions is also a good use of a defense attorney. Chances are if you’ve landed in this situation, you’re scared, angry, frustrated, worried, or all of the above. A good lawyer will help you keep those emotions in check to do what you have to during a trial.
They can also provide a reality check. Criminal defense attorneys know what’s going on in a criminal trial much better than you and will give you an honest answer about how the trial is going and what you should expect.
Beyond that, they can also act as a window to your future. Obviously, everyone wants to believe they’ve got the best defense attorney they could find and they’re going to get off with a, “whoops, our bad!”
That said, it helps to have you and your family prepared in the event that things don’t go your way in court. They can talk you through what to expect in the event that you are incarcerated, put on parole or sent to a rehabilitation program.
No one wants to think that way, but it gives you a lot of peace of mind to know what to expect.
Oh, and if you’ve found yourself in a spot of trouble and need a criminal defense attorney, read more here.
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