How to become a criminal defense attorney in Texas

Criminal Attorney Texas

If you are looking for a challenging career that pays well in Texas, becoming a Denton County Criminal Defense Attorney is a good option. Criminal law is a noble profession that many respected people in the annals of history, such as Abraham Lincoln, have chosen. It pays well and gives you a chance to defend the rights of people who feel they are wrongly accused of a crime. 

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Many innocent people are unfairly accused and sentenced to time in prison in the US. Such situations occur ;

  • When the process of arrest is done unlawfully,
  • Where the investigation of a crime is not done correctly, and;
  • Where the evidence in a criminal case is tampered with. 

In such cases, a criminal defense lawyer is the best bet to avoid jail time and clear his or her name.

What makes a great criminal defense lawyer?

Specific characteristics in us determine the professions we choose. If you love debating and would like to work in a profession that will stimulate your mind, a career in criminal law as a defense attorney is a good option. 

You should also enjoy reading and doing research as you will be required to familiarize yourself with every aspect of the United States Constitution, state and federal statutes as well as pertinent, relevant reading materials. 

A healthy dose of passion for justice comes in handy as well.

What does a criminal defense lawyer do? 

A criminal defense lawyer usually represents people charged with misdemeanors or felonies. He or she can;

  • Represent a client during an arrest and ensure the police do everything by the book.
  • Go over the details of an investigation and protect the interests of the client. For example,by ensuring that the chain of custody for evidence remains intact.
  • Help a client decide whether to accept a plea bargain or settlement agreement.
  • Support a client during sentencing and, in case of an unsatisfactory verdict, help him or her lodge an appeal. 
  • Assist a client even after the case is over in case any issues come up

Where can you work as a criminal defense attorney?

As a criminal defense lawyer, you can work for the government as a public defender. You could also set up your own law firm or work with other lawyers in a private firm. 

However, it is important to pick a section of criminal law to specialize in. There are many branches of criminal law that you can focus on as an aspiring criminal defense lawyer. For example, you can represent people accused of infractions such as motor vehicle theft or violent crimes like aggravated assault. You could specialise in white collar crimes, cybercrimes, among many other specializations. When you pick a specialization that interests you, you are more likely to be successful at it and have fun while doing it!

What credentials do you need to study criminal law?

How to become a criminal defense attorney in Texas
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The Texas Board of Law Examiners requires anyone planning to study law to get a bachelor’s degree first. The institution in which you choose to study your undergraduate degree must be accredited by a regional or national body recognized by the United States Department of Education.  

For your bachelor’s degree, pick classes that develop your ability to do thorough research, analyze evidence, write well, and speak eloquently. Some majors you can choose for your pre-law studies to this end include Psychology,  Business, Sociology, English, Math, and Political Science. 

Try to choose a major that will help you in the type of law you want to specialize in. For example, if you’re going to practice International law, picking Political Science as you major in Pre-Law studies is a great choice.

If you are unsure about which courses to choose for your undergraduate studies, approach your academic advisor for guidance. You can also join a pre-law society in your school or a national organization such as the International Legal Honor Society of Phi Delta Phi for guidance.

How do you get into a good law school?

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Apart from getting your bachelor’s degree in a discipline of your choice, you should also pass your Legal Studies Aptitude Test (LSATs). The LSATs are the entrance exam you sit to gain admission to law school. 

The higher your GPA and LSAT scores, the better your chances of getting into law school. Generally, top law institutions require students to have an LSAT score of more than 162, and a GPA of 3.7 or higher to get in.  

If you want to work in a prestigious law firm, you should aim for a position in a high ranking law school. You will find a list of the best law schools in the US, along with their cost of enrollment here. In Texas, we have over 10 law schools including, Texas A&M, UNT Dallas, Southern Methodist University among others.

How can you improve your chances of getting admission into a top law school?

In addition to good GPA and LSAT scores, you require a letter of recommendation from your college professors to join a high ranking law school. Therefore, it is essential that you build a good relationship with your professors to assure you of good recommendations at the end of your studies.

Something else to add to your arsenal when aiming for a place in a good law school is a record of participating in beneficial extracurricular activities. For example, you can participate in community service, become an active member of the debate club, or work for your college publication. 

Work experience can increase your chances of gaining admittance to a law school of your choice. Make sure any organization you volunteer to work in provides you with experience in something related to the type of law degree you want to pursue. For example, you could work in a law firm, or your local police department.

How long will it take you to become a certified criminal defense lawyer?

After getting your bachelor’s degree, you will spend three years in law school studying to get your Juris Doctor (JD) degree. You must then pass the state bar exam in your jurisdiction. After passing your bar exam, you will be sworn in as a member of the American Bar Association and can then get a license to work on the specific branch of criminal law you have chosen.

Last Word

The work of a criminal defense lawyer is important. Many are arrested, charged, and convicted for crimes they did not commit every day and as per the sixth amendment, everyone is entitled to a defense. If you study criminal defense law, you will not just be enjoying a robust career but also providing a service to your community. 

There is a common misconception that people accused of a crime must be guilty, and defense lawyers are often frowned upon. But by fighting for the rights of those the accused, they uphold one of the most important tenets of our constitution; innocent until proven guilty.

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