Criminal Lawyers

Criminal Lawyer Talks to Judge

Criminal law focuses on crime, that is, acts committed in violation of a law. This field of law is concerned with an individual’s relation to society; in fact, criminal acts are considered offenses against all members of a society even if the acts were committed against only one person. Anyone who breaks criminal laws may be punished with prison time or fines. Two types of lawyers are employed in the field of criminal law: prosecuting attorneys (also known as district attorneys and by other titles), who represent the cities, counties, states, or the federal government in court proceedings against the accused (known as defendants), and defense lawyers, who represent the accused in court. Defense lawyers work for criminal defense law firms or are self-employed. Defendants who do not have enough money to hire a defense attorney are represented by public defenders (also known as indigent lawyers), who are employed and paid by the government to represent clients.  

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Assistant City Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, Assistant State Attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, City Attorneys, District Attorneys, District Defenders, Indigent Lawyers, Prosecuting Attorneys, Public Defenders, States Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys
Duties Represent cities, counties, states, or the federal government in court proceedings against those who are accused of crimes (prosecutors); defend those who are accused of crimes (defense attorneys); defend those who have been accused of crimes, but who cannot afford legal representation (public defenders)
Salary Range $50,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country
Minimum Education Level
  • Law Degree
School Subjects
  • English
  • Government
  • Speech
Experience Internship or judicial clerkship highly recommended
Personality Traits
  • Helpful
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
  • Interpersonal
  • Organizational
  • Public Speaking
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Prosecutors often must be U.S. citizens
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Partner, Judge, or Law Professor
  • Prosecuting Attorney or Defense Attorney
  • Assistant Attorney
  • Law Clerk

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