The practice of Criminal Trial Law includes private criminal defense attorneys, public defenders, and prosecutors. Both misdemeanor and felony offenses are prosecuted and tried in both state and federal courts. The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization offers board certification for the specialty area of Criminal Trial Law to Florida attorneys who have met strict requirements demonstrating their experience and competency in criminal trials.
When the public begins their search for a criminal defense attorney in Florida, it is important to consider whether the attorney has become board certified in criminal trial law.
The Florida Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) of The Florida Bar governs the rules and policies for each of the certification areas and oversees the committees that implement each areas's standards. The standards for board certification in criminal law can be found in rule Rule 6-8 which were last revised on October 16, 2015. The field of criminal law as a specialty practice area for certification was originally established in 1987.
The rules provide that a lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and meets the standards prescribed below may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as either "Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law" or "Board Certified in Criminal Appellate Law."
The attorney may qualify for certification under both categories provided the applicant meets the standards for each category.
The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice criminal law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, to be properly identified to the public as board certified in criminal trial or appellate law. One of the best ways to understand the requirements for becoming certified in criminal law is to read the rules in their entirety.
Lawyer Legion maintains a directory of board-certified criminal law specialists in Florida. This directory provides the public with a valuable resource that allows them to narrow their search to local attorneys who have earned board certification in criminal trial law by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education.
Lawyer Legion is the only commercial lawyer directory to properly acknowledge all ABA-accredited specialization programs and provide a dynamic directory of virtually every lawyer who has earned each certification, including board certification in criminal trial law offered by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education.
Use this directory to connect with lawyers who are board-certified specialists in criminal trial law by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. Start by choosing your county from the list below.
Rule 6-8.2 provides certain definitions including:
(a) Criminal Law. "Criminal law" is the practice of law dealing with the defense and prosecution of misdemeanor and felony crimes in state and federal trial and appellate courts.
(c) Criminal Law Certification Committee. At least 2 members of the “criminal law certification committee” shall be certified in criminal appellate law. At least 5 members shall be certified in criminal trial law.
(d) Trial. A “trial” shall be defined as substantially preparing a case for court, offering testimony or evidence (or cross-examination of witness[es]) in an adversarial proceeding before a trier of fact, and submission of a case to the trier of fact for determination of the ultimate fact of guilt or innocence.
A trial conducted under the Jimmy Ryce Act, section 394.911, et seq., Florida Statutes, may count toward the trial requirement for initial certification or recertification. However, no more than 60 percent of the total trial requirement for criminal trial law certification or recertification may be based on Jimmy Ryce trials.
(e) Protracted Litigation. “Protracted litigation” shall be defined as litigation that proceeds on a long-term basis involving unusual and complicated legal or factual matters, extensive discovery, court hearings or trial, and by its very nature is so time consuming it precludes the applicant from meeting the numerical requirement.
The minimum standards for obtaining certification as a specialist in criminal law are found in Rule 6-8.3.
(a) Substantial Involvement and Competence. To become certified as a criminal trial lawyer, an applicant must demonstrate substantial involvement and competence in criminal trial law. Substantial involvement and competence shall include the following:
(1) At least 5 years of the actual practice of law of which at least 30 percent has been spent in active participation in criminal trial law. At least 3 years of this practice shall be immediately preceding application or, during those 3 years, the applicant may have served as a judge of a court of general jurisdiction adjudicating criminal trial matters.
(2) The trial of a minimum of 25 criminal cases. Of these 25 cases, at least 20 shall have been jury trials, tried to verdict, and at least 15 shall have involved felony charges; and at least 10 shall have been conducted by the applicant as lead counsel. At least 5 of the 25 cases shall have been tried during the 5 years immediately preceding application. On good cause shown, for satisfaction in part of the 25 criminal trials, the criminal law certification committee may consider involvement in protracted litigation as defined in rule 6-8.2(e).
(3) Submission of a criminal trial court memorandum or brief prepared and filed by the applicant within the 3 year period immediately preceding application. Such document shall be substantial in nature, state facts and argue various aspects of criminal law. The quality of this memorandum or brief will be considered in determining whether an applicant is qualified for certification.
(4) Within the 3 years immediately preceding application, the applicant's substantial involvement must be sufficient to demonstrate special competence as a criminal trial lawyer. Substantial involvement includes investigation, evaluation, pleading, discovery, taking of testimony, presentation of evidence, and argument of jury or non-jury cases. For good cause shown, the criminal law certification committee may waive 2 of the 3 years of substantial involvement for individuals who have served as judges. In no event may the year immediately preceding application be waived.
(b) Peer Review.
The applicant shall demonstrate that during the 3-year period immediately preceding the filing of an application, the applicant has met the continuing legal education requirements necessary for criminal trial certification. The required number of hours shall be established by the board of legal specialization and education and shall in no event be less than 45 hours. Accreditation of educational hours is subject to policies established by the criminal law certification committee or the board of legal specialization and education.
The rules for recertification in criminal trial law can be found in Rule 6-8.4. During the 5-year period immediately preceding application, an applicant shall satisfy the following requirements for recertification:
(a) Substantial Involvement.
(b) Criminal Trials.
(d) Peer Review.
Criminal Trial Certification for Florida Attorneys - Visit the website of the Florida Bar to learn more about board certification as a specialist in criminal trial law including the definition of terms involved in the rules and and reasons to become certified.