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Is a Criminal Lawyer the Same as a Defense Attorney?



When you need the services of a lawyer, it is important that you hire the right one, someone who has experience with the issue you face. That is especially important when you are facing criminal charges. Your first thought may be to find a defense attorney. That is a valid thought, but it is only partly correct. What you need is a criminal defense attorney. While they can be the same thing, a defense attorney is not always a criminal lawyer.

What Criminal Lawyers Do

Criminal lawyers, as the name suggests, represent people in criminal matters. They specialize in criminal law and often defend people accused of crimes. They may also handle other matters associated with, but not directly related to, defending a person from charges, such as:

  • Bail reduction
  • Appeals
  • Parole or probation violations
  • Expungement hearings (getting your criminal record cleared)

It is important to also remember that just because a lawyer is a criminal defense attorney does not mean he or she is qualified to take your case. Criminal law covers many different crimes, including:

Many criminal lawyers will specialize in one or a few of these areas. When you need a lawyer to defend you, make sure the crime you have been accused of matches the lawyer's experience.

What Defense Attorneys Do

Defense attorneys represent defendants in civil or criminal cases, depending on their specialty. If their specialty is criminal law, they are criminal defense attorneys. There are plenty of other specialties that a defense attorney may also practice. Sometimes non-criminal defense lawyers are also called trial lawyers or civil defense attorneys.

Examples of the types of things a defense lawyer may handle in a civil court include:

  • Representing insurance company interests in a claim
  • Lawsuits between individuals
  • Occupational professional licensing defense
  • Medical malpractice
  • Labor and employment matters
  • Products liability
  • Construction law
  • Local government law

The legal field is huge, and it is impossible to know every aspect of the law. That is why attorneys specialize. Some areas do overlap, but for the most part, each legal area has its own intricacies. It is important for defendants to understand this and seek out the right type of lawyer.