(Last Updated On: March 23, 2023)

The criminal justice system comprises the judge and jury, the prosecutor, and criminal lawyers in Canada. Each part of the system is important in ensuring the defendant’s rights are protected and the truth is revealed.

Considering that a criminal lawyer, also known as a criminal defence lawyer, represents individuals charged with criminal offences and protects their rights throughout the legal process.

Here are some of the key roles and responsibilities of a criminal lawyer in the justice system:

  1. Protect the Rights of the Accused

Criminal lawyers protect the rights of the accused because it is a fundamental principle of the legal system that individuals accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty.

To sustain this principle, criminal lawyers have a duty to vigorously defend their clients and protect their rights throughout the legal process.

Reasons why protecting the rights of the accused is so important are as follows:

  • Confirm that individuals are not wrongfully convicted or punished for crimes they did not commit.
  • Ensure that the legal system operates within the bounds of the law and is not used to punish or prosecute individuals unjustly.
  • Guarantee that their clients receive a fair trial by challenging biased or unreliable evidence, making objections to improper conduct by the prosecution or judge, and presenting a vigorous defence on behalf of their client.
  1. Provide Legal Expertise

Criminal lawyers explain the law to their clients in a way that is easy to understand. For example, you can learn about the charges against you, the potential penalties, and the legal options available. They can analyze your case, identify any legal issues or potential defences, and advise on the best action.

  1. Investigate the Case

Criminal lawyers review all of the evidence in the case, including police reports, witness statements, forensic evidence, and any other relevant documents.

By analyzing the evidence, they identify any weaknesses or inconsistencies to use them to challenge the prosecution’s case.

Also, they interview witnesses to the crime to gather additional information and identify potential inconsistencies or contradictions in their testimony. Moreover, they hire investigators to gather additional evidence and interview witnesses.

Additionally, they examine the conduct of law enforcement officials in the case to ensure that their client’s rights were not violated during the investigation or arrest. For that, they may challenge illegal search and seizure, coerced confessions, or other illegal conduct by the police.

  1. Build a Defense Strategy

After analyzing the facts and evidence of the case, and identifying potential legal issues, criminal lawyers develop a strategy to protect their client’s rights and interests.

And their theory of defence will explain what actually happened and why their client should not be held responsible for the crime. Finally, criminal lawyers may negotiate with prosecutors to resolve the case without going to trial.

  1. Negotiate Plea Deals

A plea deal is an agreement between the prosecution and the defence in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or a reduced sentence in exchange for a concession from the prosecution.

In this stage, criminal lawyers communicate with the prosecutor to negotiate the terms of the plea deal. Also, criminal lawyers explain the consequences of a plea deal to their clients. They ensure that their clients understand the terms of the deal, including any potential consequences such as fines, probation, or jail time.

Once the terms of the plea deal have been agreed upon, criminal lawyers work to finalize the deal with the prosecution and ensure that all the necessary paperwork is completed.

  1. Represent the Client in Court

Criminal lawyers are the primary advocates for their clients in court. They present arguments on behalf of their clients, cross-examine prosecution witnesses and challenge the prosecution’s case.

While dealing with a case, they establish a connection with the jury to persuade them of their client’s innocence or mitigate their culpability. Moreover, they use persuasive language, emotional appeals, and storytelling techniques to make their case and connect with the jury personally.

Again, criminal lawyers may negotiate with the judge on behalf of their client. They may argue for reduced bail or request a modification of pretrial release conditions. 

Also, they may request that certain evidence be excluded from the trial or challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained in violation of their client’s rights.


The role of criminal defence attorneys in the justice system is crucial. From protecting the rights of the accused to investigating the case, building a defence strategy, negotiating plea deals, and representing their clients in court, criminal lawyers are vital in confirming that defendants are treated reasonably.

Also, criminal lawyers use their legal expertise, analytical skills, advocacy abilities, and strategic thinking to provide the best possible defence for their clients.

Without criminal lawyers, the justice system would be imbalanced and unfair, and the rights of the accused would be at risk. Therefore, criminal lawyers are critical to the proper functioning of the justice system.