Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. A lawyer who specializes in civil litigation is known as a “litigator” or “trial lawyer.” Lawyers who practice civil litigation represent parties in trials, hearings, arbitrations and mediations before administrative agencies, foreign tribunals and federal, state and local courts.
Criminal lawyers represent defendants facing criminal charges in state, federal and appellate courts. Their scope of practice includes bail bond hearings, plea bargains, trial, revocation hearings (parole or probation), appeals and post-conviction remedies. As part of the lawyer's job functions, a criminal lawyer will:
- 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
- Draft, file and argue appeals
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