Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Must a Christian lawyer
defend a criminal?

QUESTION:

Is it ok for a Christian to be a lawyer and defend offenders or criminals when hired even when they are actually guilty of an offense?

Adam

ANSWER:

Adam, I thank you for the question. It is a very practical one. The short answer is both yes and maybe. Let me explain.

For our source, we can go to the law in Deuteronomy, the concept of intercessor, and the function of the advocate. 

1. The law in Deuteronomy chapter 19 speaks of the law that governed the Israelites. Several principles can be drawn from it. 

There is the concept of the cities of refuge to which a person guilty of manslaughter could flee and be safe from the avenger while residing in that city. If it was premeditated murder, the guilty party could not stay there, but was delivered to the avenger to be executed. Fair justice was to be served.

However, any charges brought against anyone needed to be witnessed by at least three people (verse 15). The judges were to investigate thoroughly, fairly, and to match the punishment fitting to the crime (verse 21). 

In this chapter, we have the concepts of justice, complete investigation of all the facts, honesty, and fairness – and no corruption or judges paid off. All the circumstances are to be considered, and honest witnesses are needed.

2. Now for the concept of intercessor. There are many examples where people did intercede between God and guilty parties, pleading for mercy. I list some examples below.

•Abraham interceded on the behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33).

•Moses interceded with God on behalf of the Israelites (Exodus 32:11-14).

•Samuel interceded with God on behalf of the children of Israel (1 Samuel 7:8, 9).

•Jeremiah interceded with God on behalf of the Israelites (Jeremiah 14:7-9, 19-22).

•Amos interceded with God on behalf of the Israelites (Amos 7:2-6).

In this section, we have the concepts of the person interceding on the behalf of people who were decidedly guilty. The admission of guilt was there. The evidence was clear. Yet the plea to the Judge was for compassion, leniency, and mercy to be extended.

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3. In the New Testament, we have Jesus as our advocate. John tells us, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you many not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1, 2).

An advocate is a helper, comforter, or someone who comes along side to help. The word is used in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7. Jesus intercedes for us before God the Father, even when we are guilty. He basis His case on the fact that He has already paid the penalty for our sins.

Conclusions. 

So, Adam, what can we conclude from this evidence? First, it is ok to be a lawyer to those who need help. It is ok to defend those who are guilty, using honest defenses, and making sure the trials are fair, and all the evidence is on the table. If the defendant is guilty, and you know it, then it is ok to defend them, pleading mercy and leniency before the court. 

Now, here is the maybe. There will be cases where the crime is so bad, you know the person is guilty, and you might be able to win in court so they go free. As a matter of conscience, I would say to turn down the case.  It is sometimes difficult for an honest Christian lawyer to defend someone who is part of a criminal group. You can get sucked into that group, and finding yourself constantly trying to let them get away with evil. One must be careful. You might get rich, but also lose your conscience and reputation as a Christian. 

Adam, I hope this helps you, and again thanks for stopping by the website. Tell others about our place.

All the best, and God bless.

Dr. Newman 

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