What Does a Criminal Law Paralegal Do?

A criminal law paralegal provides administrative and other types of assistance to criminal defense attorneys, courts, and other institutions involved with criminal law. The job duties of a criminal law paralegal aren’t too different from the job duties of a paralegal in general.

For example, a criminal law paralegal will still handle a wide range of duties. Those duties can include things like:

  • Administrative tasks
  • Case management
  • Drafting
  • Filing
  • Interviewing
  • Research

The major difference is that these tasks will usually contribute to building a case to help defend or prosecute a person, group, or business under criminal law. In addition to the normal paralegal duties, a criminal law paralegal may also have to take on tasks involving situations unique to dealing with the criminal law or criminal justice system. For example, a criminal law paralegal may have to deal with:

  • Bail arrangements
  • Communicating with prisons and probation personnel
  • Gathering evidence
  • Quickly filing motions

In this capacity, a criminal law paralegal may find themselves in the law library as often as in the office. For criminal law paralegals, there’s an expectation that the paralegal will have knowledge of the criminal justice system, its procedures, and how its courts work.

What Does a Typical Paralegal Job Description Look Like?

Who Hires Criminal Law Paralegals?

Generally, criminal defense attorneys and firms hire criminal law paralegals. However, criminal law paralegal jobs aren’t always strictly in a lawyer’s office. In the field of criminal justice, there’s a host of institutions that all need access to someone who can help with the unique administrative duties that come with dealing with criminal matters.

Additionally, criminal law itself is an umbrella term for various categories a paralegal can specialize in. For this reason, it’s possible to see jobs asking for a criminal defense paralegal, public defender paralegal, or criminal justice paralegal. These are all technically the same thing, but they may have unique considerations.

For example, working in a public defender’s office as a public defender paralegal will require some knowledge of how legal activities work from the public defender’s side of criminal justice. In some cases, criminal law paralegal jobs may show up in a job search as just a paralegal job but for a law firm that deals mainly with criminal justice.

Whether someone is looking for a criminal defense paralegal or a criminal justice paralegal, it’s important to pay attention to the job description to make sure what they’re looking for fits. Criminal law paralegals can work for businesses, government institutions, or for themselves.

How Much Can a Criminal Law Paralegal Make?

Criminal law paralegal salary will always sit above general paralegal salary averages because it’s a specialization. In the paralegal field, specialization is always highly sought after. Experience in general and experience with that specialization can also help to increase how much a paralegal can make from criminal paralegal jobs.

The median salary of all paralegals across the country, according to the BLS, is $51k. The range goes from less than $31k to higher than 82k. Specialization will always give a higher salary than a general paralegal or legal support work.

Some industries and institutions also generally pay more paralegals, including criminal law paralegals. These industries include government, financial, and insurance. Criminal paralegal jobs in areas of high demand will also pay a higher criminal law paralegal salary.

One way to increase salary potential for criminal law paralegals is to start with a Legal Studies degree. The degree helps with earning potential, but it also helps by giving paralegals a skillset they can use in areas outside of strictly paralegal work. This all adds value to the paralegal.

Can I Make More With a Paralegal Certification?

Another way to increase salary potential is to gain some experience through something like a criminal prosecution paralegal apprenticeship. This can work especially well for someone who wants to become a criminal law paralegal but has very little or no experience.

As with most occupations, the longer someone sticks with it, the more money they stand to make. With paralegals of all types, it’s also important to remember that they can work for themselves as well.

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