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Lawyer & Criminal Attorney in Kaysville, UT

Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Criminal Lawyer

Learn About Becoming a Criminal Lawyer or Defense Attorney

Becoming a criminal defense attorney or lawyer in Utah is a long journey, but it is worth it if you have a passion for defending and preserving the rights of your fellow citizens. You can start preparing to become a criminal lawyer or defense attorney when you are in high school, but it is never too late to consider a career change. At Murphy & Murphy Law, we have been providing quality criminal defense and legal support as lawyers and criminal attorneys throughout Kaysville, UT, for over 25 years. We are happy to offer guidance and support to students in our community considering pursuing criminal law as a career.

What Exactly Is Criminal Law?

Criminal law is a specific area of the law that involves crime and the laws applied to people who commit crimes. The two types of criminal offenses are felony offenses and misdemeanor offenses. Felony offenses are more serious crimes, like robbery, assault, rape, arson, and murder. Misdemeanor offenses include crimes like traffic violations, DUIs, and petty theft. The most common crimes committed in Utah are larceny, theft, assault, burglary, and robbery. If you become a criminal attorney or lawyer in Utah, you can expect to defend many clients charged with those crimes. Criminal lawyers and attorneys use the law to defend clients who have been accused of a crime or to hold accountable those who have been accused. This involves research, communication, writing skills, analytical reasoning, and investigation.

Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

Both criminal law and civil law are types of law that involve injuries or damages. One person, the defendant, has been accused of a crime. Another person, the plaintiff, is attempting to recoup losses or damages associated with being the victim of that crime. In criminal law, the plaintiff is the state, city, or county in which the crime has been committed. The person defending the plaintiff is a prosecutor for the government. Though the plaintiff is a government entity, they represent the specific victim(s) of the crime and fight for justice for all citizens of that city, state, or county. The defendant is the person accused of the crime. A public or private criminal defense attorney defends or represents them in court. In a criminal case, the defendant faces jail or prison time, fees and fines, or probation if convicted. In a civil case, the defendant faces monetary penalties if they are found guilty. If a person is acquitted of a crime in criminal court, the victim can file a separate civil lawsuit to try to recoup monetary damages.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

In order to attend law school in Utah, you must graduate from high school or get your GED and then attend an accredited four-year college or university. You do not need to complete any specific pre-law courses; however, you must earn your bachelor’s degree and choose a major supporting your goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney or lawyer. For instance, you might choose criminal justice or political science. You might also consider a sociology, business, economics, psychology, philosophy, or science minor. When you have earned your bachelor’s degree, you will need to sit for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test is administered four times per year, in February, June, October, and December, and is offered at many different testing centers throughout Utah. It is a standardized test that measures your knowledge and understanding of many areas of the law, reasoning, ethics, and more. When you receive your LSAT scores, you can begin applying for admission into an ABA-approved law school. The Utah State Bar doesn’t require in-state law school admission. Utah law schools to consider are the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

How Do You Become a Criminal Defense Attorney/Lawyer?

While in law school, you must complete all the foundational law coursework required by the Utah State Bar. This includes:

  • Civil procedure and law
  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal procedure and law
  • Evidence
  • Legal ethics

You will also need to complete practical work experience as a legal intern for a local attorney or government agency. When you graduate, you will earn a Juris Doctor or JD degree. You will then need to pass the Utah State Bar Exam. You must register at least 30 days prior to the test you plan on taking and register with the Utah State Bar. You will need to provide your certificate of law school graduation and other documentation along with your application. The Bar Exam is a two-day test. Day one is the writing portion of the exam, and day two is a lengthy multiple-choice exam. After passing the bar, you need to pass a review of the Character and Fitness Committee, which includes taking a multiple-choice exam that assesses your moral character and personal ethics. You will then take an oath and submit your signature on a roll of new attorneys. This roll is sent to the United States Supreme Court. The Utah State Bar also requires new members to complete the New Lawyer Training Program, where you will be mentored by an experienced Utah Lawyer. You must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam within two years of passing the exam.

Learn More About Becoming a Criminal Attorney/Lawyer

If you’re looking for a mentor during your journey toward becoming a criminal attorney or lawyer in Kaysville, UT, contact us at Murphy & Murphy Law. Attorney Michael D. Murphy has over 25 years of experience and specializes in family, juvenile, and criminal law matters. He is licensed to practice in Utah and Idaho. Call us today or fill out our online contact form to get in touch.