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Criminal Defense Lawyer vs Trial Lawyer: A Comparison

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2019 | Firm News

If you’ve been accused of a crime, you will require a lawyer to defend you. The type of lawyer you need depends on where your case is in the court system. The two types of lawyers that will defend you in this case are a criminal defense lawyer or a trial lawyer. Understanding the differences between these two will help you determine which one you need for your case. Here are the differences between a trial lawyer and criminal defense lawyer in Anne Arundel County.

Who They Defend

The type of lawyer you need primarily depends on where your case is in the criminal process. Most criminal cases are settled during the pre-trial phase, either with a plea deal or some other resolution. During the pre-trial phase of the process, you’ll employ a criminal defense attorney who will discuss plea deals or another resolution. If the case goes to trial, you will be defended by a trial lawyer. A criminal defense attorney can stay on and become a trial lawyer or they may be replaced by someone with more experience in the courtroom. If a trial lawyer replaces your criminal defense attorney in Anne Arundel County, the latter may stay on the team, as they have extensive knowledge of the case but will no longer be the lead attorney.

Type of Law

A criminal defense attorney handles the pre-trial process, which often involves negotiating a plea deal or some other resolution to avoid going to trial. Once a case goes to trial, your lawyer is considered a trial attorney, even if the same person is defending you. In this case, their primary goal is to defend you in a court of law with a jury present. When labeled as a criminal defense attorney, a lawyer will only be representing you in a criminal case. A trial lawyer, on the other hand, can defend you in either a criminal case or a civil case.


The tasks of a criminal defense attorney and trial lawyer differ, as they are defending you in different stages of your case. As your pre-trial defense, a criminal defense attorney is focused on attempting to negotiate a plea deal or other resolution that will allow you to avoid going to trial. This is sometimes the best solution since going in front of a jury could result in a stiffer punishment if found guilty. A trial lawyer has more tasks to accomplish, as they must prepare for a trial, build a record, contact witnesses, and argue motions throughout the case.

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The skillset of a criminal defense attorney and trial lawyer differ because they are in charge of two separate ways of defending you. A criminal defense attorney is an expert at knowing your chances of winning if you go to trial and negotiating plea deals to minimize your sentence. A trial lawyer is an expert at defending you in the courtroom. This includes examinations, cross examinations, jury selection, opening statements, and closing statements. Some experienced lawyers feature both skillsets, allowing them to defend you throughout the duration of your case.

If you need a solid defense in a criminal case, you will require either a trial lawyer or criminal defense attorney in Anne Arundel County. Knowing what differentiates these attorneys will allow you to determine which one you are in need of.