“The law is reason, free from passion.”
Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) Greek philosopher.
“It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour”
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third president of the United States.
Do you have a passion for the law
and the legal profession? Criminal law is that branch of the legal framework that deals with cases related to criminal offences - ranging from domestic violence, robbery, sexual assault and murder to more recent offences like those connected to cyber-crime, internet fraud,, etc. As a criminal lawyer, you could get to represent individuals or the State on anything from a traffic violation to homicide.
There are a wide range of options within most academic programs in the field of criminal justice, which also implies that there are decisions to be made. Firstly, you have to determine the level of study you wish to undertake - whether an associate degree or a full-fledged bachelor’s program. There are career and financial impacts to be considered; for instance, for certain professional opportunities within the criminal justice field like a paralegal, an associate degree might suffice, whilst roles such as an investigating agent within a government body like the FBI will require a bachelor’s degree.
Cost is another factor - if you plan to start out in a community college in the US
in pursuit of a conventional four-year degree or study for an associate degree, you can expect the tuition fee and the general overall expenditure to be much lesser than what a bachelor’s degree at a bigger university would cost. Criminal Justice courses do not come cheap - the cost of a recognised course at top universities in the UK
could be in the range of GBP 11,000, while an equivalent course in the US would cost around $ 20,000 at a government institution and even higher in private colleges. But the rewards are high for those who have it in them to make the grade.
Most criminal justice courses around the world, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels include compulsory modules on criminal justice processes, sentencing, management practices in criminal justice, crime psychology, restorative justice and transnational criminal offences, among many others.
The Master of Laws (LLM) in Criminal Law is the premier international criminal law course, with a particular emphasis on crimes against humanity such as genocide, war crimes and aggression. The course provides students with in-depth knowledge of widely accepted international practices and procedures in criminal law and equips them to practice in national courts and international tribunals. The LLM is widely acknowledged as highly relevant for practitioners of criminal law, especially so for those who come under the Commonwealth Common Law jurisdictions.
The challenges and thrills inherent to the job and the high remuneration are often counter-balanced by the need for working long and often unearthly hours, the monumental patience required and excellent communication and persuading skills - after all, how successful you are depends directly on how convincingly you present and defend the facts at your disposal in front of the judge.
Given the specialised nature of the job and the fact that crime figures are on the rise, lucrative career prospects await criminal lawyers, even within India. Apart from working for a government agency, non-governmental organization or a private firm, you can also opt to be a research assistant or a professor at a college of law.
The career of an established criminal lawyer is indeed a very rewarding one.
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