8 March 2022

What does a Criminal Laywer do?

In Australia, there are two main types of lawyers: barristers and solicitors.

 

What is a Solicitor?

A solicitor is a person who has studied law, usually at university, then completed practical legal training and been ‘admitted’ to the Supreme Court of their state or territory to practice law.

If you have a legal issue or problem, a solicitor is usually the first person you will speak with. A solicitor will take your instructions, do research, provide advice, prepare documents, and appear in Court on your behalf.

 

What is a Barrister?

A Barrister is a lawyer who has also been ‘admitted’ to the Supreme Court. To become a Barrister in NSW, a person must also sit and pass a Bar Exam and complete a year of ‘readership’ under a tutor.

A Barrister specialises in advocacy work in courts and tribunals and provides legal advice. Barristers are generally instructed by a Solicitor, instead of directly from a client. If you have a complicated legal problem, your Solicitor will tell you if you need a Barrister.

When working together a Solicitor will usually prepare your case and take responsibility for the day-to-day management of your case, the barrister will speak in court at the hearing.

What does a Criminal Lawyer do?

In Australia, we have an adversarial legal system. This means that criminal lawyers will either appear for the prosecutor or the defence to represent their parties’ case before an impartial group of people; either a Magistrate, Jury or Judge, who decide the issues in a matter.

In NSW Police Prosecutors and the Officer of the Director of Public Prosecutors, are the main bodies responsible for prosecuting crimes. Typically, police will investigate, and charge people and a prosecutor will appear in court on behalf of the state. Normally, police prosecutors appear in the Local Court and a solicitor from the DPP will appear in the District and Supreme Courts.

At a trial or hearing a prosecutor will present the evidence against an accused person and test the case that an accused person may bring. At sentence, the prosecutor makes submissions on several matters including, the seriousness of an offence, relevant law and authorities and other matters, to assist a court in imposing an appropriate sentence.

A defence lawyer represents the interests of an accused person. At a trial or hearing, a defence lawyers key responsibility is to ensure an accused person has a fair trial. A defence lawyer will examine the evidence in the police case and test the credibility and reliability of this evidence. At sentence, a defence lawyer will also make submissions on behalf of the accused, on the relevant law and authorities, the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances of an accused, to ensure the sentence imposed is appropriate and fair.

Usually, a defence solicitor will appear alone in the Local Court for bail applications, hearings, sentences and other applications. For more serious matters, a solicitor will usually instruct a barrister to appear in the District and Supreme Courts for trials, sentences, and bail applications.

You may also see a criminal lawyer appearing in other courts and tribunals in NSW. For example, criminal lawyers often represent parties in the Coroners Court of NSW or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

 

At Morrisons, we are specialist criminal lawyers based in Wollongong and the Southern Highlands. Our solicitors regularly appear before the Local, District and Supreme Court for bail applications, sentences, hearings and trials. If you require assistance in relation to a criminal law matter, you can book an appointment with one of our solicitors here. Our initial consultation is free, and we offer affordable, fixed fee pricing.


Subscribe to our newsletter