In this article, you will get to know more about the basics of a public defender’s job and what is required to become the same. Keep reading to know more.
A public defender is a government representative who fights legal battles for people who don’t have the required money to hire an attorney to represent them. At the outset, the public defender seems to be a choice that is full of intriguing questions. Defending alleged criminals seems morally wrong and it also attracts criticism from people belonging to several sections of the society. If you happen to meet a public defender, do ask him or her about the challenges they have to face in this government profession.
Most of the counties, states and cities are overloaded with pending cases just because of the fact that the alleged people don’t have funds to represent themselves in courts. The government intervenes to help such people by granting them access to state appointed attorneys, known as public defenders. A typical day in the life of a public defender is full of work pressure. They have to very often face anger and disgust of the people they are representing and many times, they have to face tough and challenging questions from opposing lawyers and judges.
Job Description of a Public Defender
There are several duties entailed in the job of public lawyer defending alleged individuals. Right from negotiating with prosecutors, judges and opposing lawyers for granting some sort of relief to the accused to make life better for their clients. We may be surprised that why should anyone charged with a criminal charge should be defended? The fact is that ‘defining crime’ is quite difficult. While an alleged criminal may have a past track record of being a miscreant, there are cases where accused are youngsters charged because involvement in illegal activities such as drugs. If they are not able to defend themselves, there can be a loss of their valuable life, because many cases attract strict punishment.
The concept of defending an alleged person by the state or government has been introduced by keeping the same fact in mind that people must be given a second chance to change. Moreover, in a democratic form of government, it is the constitutional right of an individual for the right to counsel and be fairly represented in the judiciary. A public defender tries his or her best to defend clients. Even if public defenders are unable to help the clients in gaining complete freedom, they try their best to lessen the punishment or resolve the case by asking the client to accept being guilty of the crime in order to get reduced punishment.
Public defenders work for protecting right of liberty of a person, no matter, if it is a normal citizen or someone who has been accused on serious charges. We may not agree completely with the notion but it is possible that if a guilty person is allowed freedom, he may change for the better. Laws in our constitution have been framed to protect human rights and with a positive belief in the principles of living. That’s why you will find that criminals are given a chance to represent themselves in courts.
Typical duties of a public defender include:
- Meet clients and conduct interviews and listen to the case properly.
- Interrogate clients and witnesses to get in-depth information about cases.
- Go through trial papers, documents, drafts and other legal papers to understand the cases closely.
- Brief clients and their family members regarding the updates of the case.
- Fulfill the duty with highest levels of integrity and dedication to help the clients, in the best possible way. Follow all ethics and principles established by the court.
- Gather information and data related to the case.
Skills and Requirements to Become a Public Defender
To become a public defender, one needs to have a law degree, with several years of work experience in trial courts. In most of the Federal works, lawyers with litigation work experience are usually hired. While education is vital, personality of the lawyer matters a lot. Being in charge of such a sensitive and responsible position, a person needs to have virtues of courage, fortitude and a deep maturity. Defending an indignant individual is not an easy task as he or she is already troubled due to many factors. Compassion and empathy are essential to make the alleged individual feel that someone is there to take care for them. Strict law imprisonment breaks even toughest of the individuals and that is why public defenders must be careful in handling such criminals.
As you can see, the job of these government lawyers entails activities that can only be undertaken by people who have deep knowledge and understanding of the laws regarding criminal acts. Moreover, if you are planning to be a public defender, you must be willing to give your best to help people who are there in the courtrooms without any representation. You may easily get away without being very dedicated to your work in this profession because most of the time, if crime charges on alleged individuals are serious, it becomes difficult to defend them. But if you are casual in your duties, questions are raised against your integrity. Even you may feel bad, for not giving your best.
Attorneys in public defending services are given high salaries besides several government perks. The salaries may start from US$35,000, for freshers and it can cross US$100,000 with work experience. If you want to be a public defender, seek a law degree from a reputed institution and get some work experience. If you are really ready to help people, it is an ideal job for you.