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What does it mean to be death penalty certified as an attorney?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2021 | Violent Crimes

When an attorney is death penalty certified, it means that they have gone through additional steps to be certified in handling these difficult, and often complex, cases. To become certified, the attorney has to try a certain number of death cases to completion. Interestingly, if the case is settled and doesn’t go to trial, then it doesn’t count toward that certification.

Not many attorneys are certified in this area, but if someone is facing allegations that could lead to the death penalty, then it’s a good idea to find an attorney who is.

Why does it matter if an attorney is death penalty certified?

It is almost guaranteed that the attorney used in your case will impact the outcome. The quality of your representation matters, because in capital cases, that representation can mean the difference between life and death. Studies have shown that higher quality counsel and better resources have resulted in a decline in death sentences.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has required that attorneys meet a minimum qualification to represent defendants who face the death penalty since 2004. Those requirements state that the attorney needs to have specific experience, education and training. Those additional qualifications are set by the Continuing Legal Education Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

What should you do when you’re looking for a death penalty certified attorney?

If you are looking for a death penalty certified attorney, you should look for a few things. First, find an attorney who is willing to work on your case. In some instances, they may have conflicts of interest, which they will discuss with you.

Next, you should ask how many cases they have tried and their outcomes. Their past successes don’t guarantee that your case will be successful, but seeing that the attorney has handled many cases and gotten acquittals, lowered penalties or dismissed cases for past clients may make you more confident when you hire them.

When a case is as serious as life and death, you must find someone who is skilled in this area of law. Failing to do so puts your life at a greater risk.