If you’re wondering, which paralegal certification should i get, but you’ve had your eyes set on working directly within the criminal justice system as a paralegal, then there’s good news for you. The role of a paralegal within criminal law is booming within recent years. Criminal law paralegals primarily work within a law library or in an attorney’s office. Throughout the past several years, the roles and responsibilities of a criminal law paralegal has grown and delved into tasks that were traditionally reserved for attorneys. Because of this, working as a criminal law paralegal has become a dynamic and vastly-involved career option. Of course, a criminal law paralegal isn’t legally allowed to actually practice law. Therefore, all of your work is directed and supervised by a licensed attorney.
A criminal law paralegal must hold a strong understanding when it comes to the basic-level classification of crimes. You must also be well-versed with a variety of legal procedures, such as arrest, probation, bail as well as search and seizure. Although the daily tasks you may be faced with can dramatically vary, there are several universal tasks that you’ll typically be required to carry out. These include:
1.) Perform interviews with witnesses
2.) Engage in legal research for a specific case
3.) Prepare legal and trial documentation
4.) Assist attorney’s while they prepare for a trial
5.) Draft briefs, motions and complaints to be used in criminal proceedings
Because of the nature of this career, the most successful applicants are those who have obtained an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. However, this isn’t the only educational pathway to enter this career field. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can opt for a post-degree certificate in paralegal studies with an emphasis in criminal law. Some students find it beneficial to obtain a criminal justice associate’s or bachelor’s degree and then pursue a technical certificate in paralegal studies.
Because of the demand found within this specialty, the majority of criminal law paralegals find it beneficial to take additional coursework within the scope of this practice. Some of the most essential courses you should take include:
1.) Contracts – both reading and writing these essential legal documents
2.) Criminal Law Essentials – While you aren’t an attorney, you should be well-versed in the essential components that make up criminal law. Being able to clearly demonstrate your proficiency in these topics will garner you higher employment options and potentially higher salaries.
3.) Legal Writing – A major job function of a criminal law paralegal is drafting legal documents. The techniques needed to successfully draft a legal document is vastly different then the requirements for other forms of writing.
4.) Ethics and Responsibility in the Workforce – Because you’ll be dealing with sensitive information, you must be well-versed in the ethical responsibilities and regulations that are specific to the criminal law branch of the legal system.