An attorney, sometimes known as a lawyer or a prosecutor (if the individual is attempting to prove that a crime has been committed), is a criminal justice professional who works for an independent law firm or the public court system. These individuals attempt to prove that an individual is guilty or prove reasonable amount of doubt in regard to an individual’s guilt. Attorneys discuss legal issues with their clients, determine if probable cause exists to file criminal charges, file appeals, file criminal charges, and file court documents. In addition, attorneys interview witnesses, present evidence to juries, provide legal advice to clients, question experts and witnesses testifying before the court, research laws and regulations relating to a specific criminal offense, research decisions of other courts so those decisions may be used as precedent, and perform a variety of other tasks. Typically, attorneys in the criminal justice field work either as defense attorneys or as prosecutors. A defense attorney is a criminal justice professional who represents an individual accused of a crime. The defense attorney works to convince the jury of reasonable doubt concerning the individual’s guilt. A prosecutor is a criminal justice professional who represents the state and the victims who have accused an individual of a crime. The prosecutor’s job is to convince the jury that the individual on trial is guilty (unless the prosecutor has sufficient reason to believe that the individual is not guilty.)
An attorney typically earns between $68,000 and $165,000 a year, but some attorneys may make more or less than this amount depending on the area in which they work. In fact, an attorney may make as little as $48,000 a year or over $165,000 a year in some areas. An attorney’s earning potential depends not only on the area in which the individual works, but also on the individual’s education, employer, experience, and specialty. An individual, as a result, may be able to earn significantly more money than a typical attorney if he or she has specialized skills, additional education, additional experience, or has a position in a management company or private firm.
Specific requirements to become an attorney vary according to state and employer. However, most states require a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. In addition, you must take and pass the bar examination for the state in which you are applying and obtain your license to practice law. You may be required to take the Multistate Performance Test, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), obtain another degree, or meet other requirements before you begin working in some states or specialties.