AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATIONFourth Edition of theCRIMINAL JUSTICE STANDARDSfor theDEFENSE FUNCTIONPART IGENERAL STANDARDSStandard 4-1.1 The Scope and Function of these Standards(a) As used in these Standards, “defense counsel” means any attorney – including privately retained, assigned by the court, acting pro bonoor serving indigent defendants in a legal aid or public defender’s office – who acts as an attorney on behalf of a client being investigated or prosecuted for alleged criminal conduct, or a client seeking legal advice regarding a potential, ongoing or past criminal matter or subpoena, including as a witness. These Standards are intended to apply in any context in which a lawyer would reasonably understand that a criminal prosecution could result. The Standards are intended to serve the best interests of clients, and should not be relied upon to justify any decision that is counter to the client’s best interests. The burden to justify any exception should rest with the lawyer seeking it.(b) These Standards are intended to provide guidance for the professional conduct and performanceof defense counsel. They are not intended to modify a defense attorney’s obligations under applicable rules, statutes or the constitution. They are aspirational or describe “best practices,” and are not intended to serve as the basis for the imposition of professional discipline, to create substantive or procedural rights for clients, or to create a standard of care for civil liability. They may be relevant in judicial evaluation of constitutional claims regarding the right to counsel. For purposes of consistency, these Standards sometimes include language taken from the Model Rules of Professional Conduct; but the Standards often address conduct or provide details beyond that governed by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. No inconsistency is ever intended; and in any case a lawyer should always read and comply with the rules of professional conduct and other authorities that are binding in the specific jurisdiction or matter, including choice of law principles that may regulate the lawyer’s ethical conduct.(c) Because the Standards for Criminal Justice are aspirational, the words “should” or “should not” are used in these Standards, rather than mandatory phrases such as “shall” or “shall not,” to describe the conduct of lawyers that is expected or recommended under these Standards. The Standards are not intended to suggest any lesser standard of conduct than may be required by applicable mandatoryrules, statutes, or other binding authorities.(d) These Standards are intended to address the performance of criminal defense counsel in all stages of their professional work. Other ABA Criminal Justice Standards should also be consulted for more detailed consideration of the performance of criminal defense counsel in specific areas.
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criminal law, Lawyer, defense counsel, DEFENSE FUNCTION