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The field of criminal law is one of the most complex of all. Very few law students end up becoming criminal defense attorneys, not in the least because they shoulder such a huge responsibility. Hence, according to Dan DeKoter, it takes a special type of person to take this side of the law on.

Dan DeKoter Explains Criminal Law

Criminal or penal law is the area of law in which individuals are prosecuted by federal or state government. It is part of criminal justice, in which rehabilitation, incapacitation, deterrence, and punishment theories all play a role as well. Sentences imposed are designed to improve social order, peace, and justice.

Lots of different crimes come under the field of criminal law. A defense lawyer will work on various cases, ranging from minor to major offenses. This includes sex crimes, child pornography, identity theft, fraud, DUI/DWI, assault, arson, manslaughter, and murder to name but a few. A criminal lawyer does not judge their clients and their opinion has to be put aside in order for them to defend their client. This is often the hardest thing of all to do. They must represent someone who has been accused of child rape, for instance, as an innocent individual.

Often, criminal attorneys defend people whom they know are guilty of the crime they are accused of. They must, in that case, put aside their personal opinions and beliefs, defending the individual regardless. This is why these attorneys must have a very strong character.

As all other lawyers, defense attorneys must first study law and then pass the Bar exam. They often have to work as an intern when they are still in law school. Most already start working on criminal defense at this point. It seems to be a case of people knowing exactly what they want to do long before they enter the professional world. That said, finding internships that are relevant can be quite difficult, which is why many work as legal clerks instead. Many also start their career as a prosecutor rather than a defense lawyer, eventually switching sides.

The field of criminal law may be challenging, it also provides a lot of benefits. The vast majority of non-criminal cases are settled outside of court, which means they don’t ever go through trial. Criminal cases, by contrast, are almost always conducted in the court room, standing in front of a judge and jury. Because of this, many criminal attorneys become far more well-rounded, because they have that practical experience of being inside a court room. They are a special kind of professional, and not everybody is ready to take on this type of role.

According to Dan DeKoter, it is this special personality that people should look for if they need a defense attorney themselves. Good lawyers stand out from the crowd for their genuine passion. They don’t do it for the glory or even the big bucks, particularly since much of their work will be pro bono. They do it because they genuinely care.