Do you think you can speak in a manner that is not only clear but also has the power to convince people? Do you usually find yourself binge-reading crime-related novels? Are you someone who would be interested in taking interviews of criminals and victims? Are you someone who is driven to provide justice to the wrongly accused or the victims? Do you want your day-to-day life’s work to be challenging and equally compelling? Do you think you can change the judicial system with your expertise and determination to provide justice? If all the above questions made you jump to a ‘Yes’, then you can find a career as a Criminal Lawyer very interesting. Find out how.
A Criminal Lawyer is someone who represents a party to a court of law and makes sure that the party gets justice under the various Criminal Laws and rules of a country. A criminal lawyer handles cases related to crimes against individuals, sexual offenses, crimes against property, crimes against justice, crimes against animals, and crimes against the state Many of such criminal cases are related to – conspiracy, fraud, assault, homicide, theft, dacoity, drug trafficking, human trafficking, domestic violence, a crime against women.
Why Become a Criminal Lawyer?
A Criminal Lawyer represents a party to a court of law to ensure that the party gets justice under the various Criminal Laws and rules of a country. Laws that forbid any conduct or behavior believed to be threatening, harmful and which endangers the safety, health, and moral welfare of the society as a whole form the body of the Criminal Law in a country. Such laws are enforced to identify the accused, to reform the ones who are guilty, to provide justice to the victims, and mostly to prevent crimes in the future.
As a Criminal Lawyer, you may represent a plaintiff (the person or organization who sues another person or an organization under the Criminal Acts of a country) or the prosecuting agency (Government and Police forces) or you may also advise and represent a defending party (the person or organization who is accused or charged) to make sure that the party is able to defend itself against the accusations or charges and get justice if falsely implicated or might have committed the act of crime under certain circumstances (such as murdering someone in self-defense and unintentionally causing a minor accident).
As a Criminal Lawyer, you would be handling a diverse range of cases relating to crimes against individuals, sexual offenses, crimes against property, crimes against justice, crimes against animals, crimes against the state, etc. Many of such criminal cases are related to – conspiracy, fraud, assault, homicide, theft, dacoity, drug trafficking, human trafficking, domestic violence, crime against women, etc. It is vital for a Criminal Lawyer to work hard and practice in trials and gain further experience. Trial cases are run only in District courts, Lower courts or magistrate courts and are important in terms of legal practice in Criminal Law. As a beginner you would be involved in the filing of cases, conducting extensive investigations, visiting police stations and prisons, taking statements from a witness, filing pleas and motions in court as well as conducting trials etc. As you will gain more and more experience, you would start representing your clients in a court of law before a judge.
To practice criminal law, you need to have good knowledge of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which is an all-inclusive code covering all the functional aspects of Criminal Law, CRPC (The Code of Criminal Procedure) provides a proper system for the investigation of crime, cross-examination of perpetrators, collection of evidence, ascertaining guilt and innocence of the accused person. Another important aspect of Criminal Law that you as a Lawyer would need to know about is the Evidence Act- which is a set of rules that issues the admission of the Evidence produced in the court.
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What Does a Criminal Lawyer do?
- To represent clients in a court of law and act in their best interest.
- Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
- Investigate organized crime, public corruption, financial crime, copyright infringement, civil rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and other violations of state statutes (Statutes are the laws written by the legislative body).
- Obtain and verify the evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
- Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.
- To evaluate your findings and develop strategies and arguments for the presentation of a case.
- Enters into plea negotiations with defendants or their attorneys during pre-trial conferences.
- Collect and record physical information about arrested suspects, including fingerprints, height and weight measurements, and photographs.
- To analyze the possible outcomes of a case using your legal knowledge and with the help of legal precedents.
- To study the Constitution and stay updated with statutes, regulations, judicial decisions, and ordinances of both judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
- To carefully check the relevancy and accuracy of all legal documentation before using them in a court of law or signing them.
How to Become a Criminal Lawyer – Eligibility Criteria
You must do an undergraduate degree in Law, either a 5-year B.A./B.Com./B.Sc./B.B.A. LL.B. program or a 3-year LL.B. program (a 3-year LL.B. can be done after another 3-year graduation degree). You can pursue your master’s in law by choosing Criminal Law as your specialization. You can start practicing law by getting registered with a State Bar Council and clearing the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) after getting a Law degree. In case you wish to become a professor, you can go for further studies like masters or a doctoral degree.
After completing your graduation with a law degree, you can get a job with:
- A senior practicing lawyer and work as a Junior, helping him prepare case files, research, presentation, filing cases in courts etc.
- A law firm or a solicitor’s firm as a Junior Solicitor or similar position. Here as well, you will assist senior lawyers in preparing case files, research, presentation, filing cases in courts, etc.
- A management consulting or financial consulting firm which has legal practices. Here also you will work to assist senior lawyers.
- Defense forces or government legal functions or departments as Public Prosecutor or in similar roles.
In case you want to practice independently or on behalf of a firm, company, or other organization, you need to register with a State Bar Council and then appear and qualify in the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India. Independent practice is advisable only after having 8-10 years of experience under a senior lawyer or with a firm.
The majority of lawyers work full time as their job involves various aspects like conducting research, drafting documents etc. so they often work for long hours. Civil lawyer works in offices but mostly they have to travel at various location to conduct meetings with their clients and for gathering information. Lawyers who represent their clients in court may face heavy pressure during trials. So the job is very hectic as sometimes they have to meet deadlines.
Salary of a Criminal Lawyer
If you work as a junior to a senior advocate or an established Lawyer, you may or may not get remuneration. The pay usually ranges between Rs. 5, 000 – 15,000 per month.
If you join as a Junior Lawyer in a Solicitor Firm/Law Firm, your average monthly salary will be around Rs. 5, 000 – 15,000.
As an Associate working in a Legal Consulting Firm, you will make around Rs. 35, 000 – 1,00,000. High-end salaries are paid to graduates hailing from premier Law Schools.
As a Legal Executive in a public/private sector company, you will earn around Rs. 35, 000 – 60,000.
When you become a practicing Lawyer with 8-10 years of experience, your average monthly income may range anywhere between Rs. 50,000 – 4, 00,000 or more. After you have gained 15-20 years of experience, you may earn around Rs. 70,000 – 30,00,000 or more per month. If you work at a small session court in a state, your minimum monthly earning will be Rs.70,000, and if you work for a renowned Law Firm in the country, you can earn as high as Rs.30,00,000 or even more. After 25 – 30 years of experience, you can look forward to earning anything in between Rs.1,00,000 – 50,00,000 or more per month.
If you work as a Legal Executive/Associate in Defence Forces or for the state/central government, your starting salary will be around Rs. 65,000 per month, and the highest monthly salary will be Rs. 2,50,000.
Career Progression in Criminal Lawyer Profession
Career growth as a criminal lawyer highly depends on your work experience and qualification.
If you join a Solicitor Firm/Law Firm/Legal Consulting Firm/ you generally begin your career as an Associate.
As you move up the position in the organization as a practicing lawyer/associate consultant (only after having cleared the AIBE examination and after having 5-8 years of experience.) the next step of promotion is to the position of Senior Lawyer/consultant. The final step of promotion is to the level of a firm Partner. After gaining adequate experience, you can start your own practice. You can also start working at the session courts (It is the highest criminal court in a district), trial courts, or the high court.
What does Industry Trends Say – Future Prospects
Indian legal services are expected to grow as more and more Indian companies are expanding internationally by establishing associations with international markets. India is currently at the world’s 2nd largest legal professional market with more than 6, 00,000 lawyers. With a total number of 1200+ law schools and around 70,000-80,000 enrolments every year, legal services in India are going to witness more growth prospects in the coming years. Both inflow and outflow in Legal Outsourcing have been transforming law practice as law firms and corporate legal departments are looking for cost-cutting techniques, increasing flexibility and expanding domestic capabilities. Because of globalization and the continuous flow of both inward and outward foreign direct investment in the legal sector, the demand for skilled and qualified lawyers is also increasing rapidly.
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