Legal Dictionary

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Defense Attorney

A defense attorney is the lawyer who is representing the defendant in court. The term is used in both civil and criminal actions. In criminal matters, a privately hired defense attorney is referred to as a “criminal defense attorney.” If a criminal defendant cannot afford an attorney, representation from a public defender is available because the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to be represented by an attorney. Civil defendants have no guaranteed rights to legal representation.