Criminal lawyers, also known as criminal defense lawyers and public defenders, work to defend individuals, organisations, and entities that have been charged with a crime. They handle a diverse spectrum of criminal cases, ranging from domestic violence crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes and drug crimes to driving under the influence (DUI), theft, embezzlement, and fraud. Lawyers representing the State/ the Government are also known as Public Prosecutors, they serve as the voice of the State as a policing system and assist the Courts by carefully and articulately putting the facts and evidence on record for the Criminal act to be tried and punished.

On the counterpart, a Defense Lawyer defends the client who has been accused of a crime and assists the Court in considering the plea for the innocence of the accused.

It is a fast-paced practice area and therefore requires effective practical training before on can professionally pursue it individually. To become a Criminal lawyer it is very important to be able to work under pressure and be able to think on your feet.

Criminal law involves a lot of research and evidence gathering, therefore being able to deal with information promptly will serve you well.

A Criminal Lawyer/Advocate is responsible for defending individuals who are charged with crimes and felonies. Criminal Lawyers are either public prosecutors who are appointed by the state or local government for defending the clients or they are employed by a private firm. 

What do they do?

  • Investigate the case and interview witnesses
  • Research case law, statutes, crimes codes, and procedural law
  • Build a defense and develop a case strategy
  • Negotiate with the prosecution to plea bargain to lesser charges
  • Draft, file and argue motions such as motions to dismiss and motions to suppress
  • Advocate for the defendant at trial

Key Skills

  • Writing and speaking skills: Excellent oral and written advocacy skills in order to argue a client’s case before a judge and persuade a jury.
  • Research and investigative skills: Investigative and research skills are also important in building a client’s case and establishing a strong defense.
  • Creative and analytical skills: Strong creative thinking and analytical skills to develop a legal strategy, analyze case law and litigate complex cases.
  • Legal knowledge and experience: In-depth understanding of state, federal and local rules, court procedures, evidentiary laws, and local judges to navigate the criminal justice system efficiently and competently.
  • Interpersonal skills: Excellent interpersonal skills are necessary to build a strong client-attorney relationship. Criminal defendants are a finicky group who sometimes go through many lawyers before settling on one they like. Therefore, the ability to attract and retain clients is essential to a thriving criminal defence practice.

Education Pathway

  • Std XII Any Stream
  • Entrance Exams (CLAT / LSAT )
  • Relevant LLB (bachelor’s) degree in Law. 
  • 3- or 5-year LLB (Bachelor’s) degree from a recognised university to get admission into a master’s course
  • Graduate (BA LLB/ BBA LLB/B.Sc. LLB)
  • Post-Graduate (LLM/ Ph. D.)
  • One of the best career routes to get into a Criminal Law is to work/ intern under a Criminal Lawyer and gain experience in Criminal trials and cases. This will provide you with the required experience.

Career Growth 

Criminal law is a growing practice niche. As crime rates spiral upwards and criminal laws change, the number of people sentenced to prison has risen nearly threefold over the past 30 years. Crime rates have increased and prison populations are exploding across the country. As new criminal laws are codified and more Americans are charged under state and federal laws, the need for criminal lawyers to defend the accused will also rise.

According to the BLS, the growth in jobs for all attorneys, including criminal attorneys, from 2016-2026 relative to other occupations and industries is 8%. This growth rate compares to the projected 7% growth for all occupations. Some options are-

Government Pleader

Government Pleader is an officer appointed by the State Government to perform all the functions imposed by the Code of Civil Procedure on the Government Pleader. The job role of the Government Pleader is to draft pleadings and pleads in the court of law on the behalf of the Government.

Public Prosecutor/ Additional Public Prosecutor

The main job role of the Public Prosecutor is to represent the case from the States-side (State Government) against the suspected criminal in a criminal case or in criminal prosecution. An additional Public Prosecutor is a part of the state’s judiciary and is in charge of litigation and all other procedures. To become a Public Prosecutor, you will have to appear in the UPSC exam for the post of Public Prosecutor.

Criminal Law Practitioner

The job role of the Criminal Law Practitioner is to address key Criminal Law Issues in such a way that they are useful for lawyers, judiciary and students.


A lecturer who specialises in Criminal Law will be responsible for teaching undergraduate/ postgraduate courses in Criminal law and its practices. A Criminal Law lecturer will be responsible to undertake and develop high-quality research and scholarly publishing. Lawyers who have an advanced qualification, relevant experience and research in Criminal Law usually become lecturers in the respective specialisation

Top Recruiters

Private Firm Government Organisation

Assistant Public Prosecutor

Additional Public Prosecutor

Principal Public Prosecutor

Director of Public Prosecution