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Requirements to Succeed in Criminal Law ? Fast Thinking and the Art of Persuasion

10th August 2010
By Declandevin in Legal
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The main role of a criminal lawyer is to persuade - whether that be magistrates, judges or a jury. The criminal lawyer may have to convince the magistrate or judge as to law or he/she may be attempting to convince the jury as to the facts most favourable to his/her client.

In terms of the court passing a sentence whilst the objective seriousness of the offence is the most important factor in determining a sentence - the accused's subjective factors are also important. A criminal lawyer can use the accused's subjective factors in an attempt to persuade the court to mitigate the accused's sentence due the level of the accused's moral culpability for the offence, the accused's remorse and contrition and the accused's prospects for rehabilitation.

The role of a criminal lawyer is not a cake walk - it can involve high degrees of stress, strain and hard work. Stresses arise in most cases given that the potential consequences for the client are not favourable however, this is particularly so when the client is facing a lengthy custodial sentence. The criminal lawyer not only has the stresses of the client facing the judicial system but also the extended stresses of accused's family and relatives who are at times just as anxious as to the verdict.

However, as with anything an important aspect for success is preparation! The criminal lawyer must know the law and he/she must know the brief. From here the criminal lawyer must have a case theory that can be argued to bring the accused either within the law or outside of the facts that the prosecution are alleging. As there would be opposing lawyers in any criminal case, presenting the idea in favor of the accused and persuading others to accept it requires many inputs from the accused.

Expert criminal lawyers are those who have handled a variety of cases on crime and can easily identify the strategies which could help the client. Criminal lawyers learn new extensions of the laws and legal aspects involved with each case they undertake. The success of a criminal lawyer depends on his ability to adapt to the new requirements demanded by the new criminal cases, which he undertakes. The criminal lawyer should have good experience as a practitioner and needs to be aggressive enough to ethically defend the accused. As mentioned, the art to being a successful criminal lawyer is persuasion - one cannot be persuasive without being prepared in having a cogent and well structured argument.

Geoff Harrison is a criminal barrister practising at the NSW Bar in Sydney with extensive experience as a criminal lawyer, DUI & traffic offences, drug matters and apprehended violence orders (AVOs). Geoff has also worked as a Senior Criminal Lawyer for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.You can read my other articles at DeclanDevin.
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