California has a long, varied history of criminal justice and legal representation of those charged with criminal offenses. 

The development of the modern American criminal justice system can largely be attributed to English common law as it was adopted by the United States after the Revolution. Initially, California relied on county judges and justices of the peace to handle minor cases, but in 1851, the state created a Supreme Court and concurrently established other courts throughout California’s judicial system.


From this point forward, lawyers began to serve an increasingly important role in providing legal counsel for those accused of crimes.

In 1868, legislation was passed which allowed for the appointment of counsel for indigent defendants who could not afford their own lawyer. In response, many lawyers began specializing in criminal defense work as part of larger firms or private practices. 

As legal precedent evolved and society responded to advances in technology and growing demands from victims’ rights activists, lawyers specializing in criminal defense continued to expand their services throughout California.


One prominent example is Clarence Darrow (1857-1938). 

After graduating from University Law School at age 21, Darrow moved westward where he quickly gained a reputation as a formidable trial attorney. During his career he defended clients ranging from union organizers and radicals embroiled in labor disputes to some of Los Angeles’ most notorious criminals. His success earned him praise from fellow attorneys who admired his ability to effectively argue cases before juries and win difficult cases through negotiation or appeals before higher courts.


Darrow’s impact on California’s legal system was profound; several landmark appellate court cases were argued by Darrow including People vs Neelley (1930), which eventually influenced reforms made by the state legislature regarding jury instructions; People vs Lopez (1935), which set the stage for changes in how police officers obtained confessions; and People v Loper (1945) which altered how prosecutors argued cases involving circumstantial evidence before juries. Over time these decisions have become integral components to our state’s legal infrastructure and helped form the foundation that today’s criminal defense attorneys use when representing people accused of crimes throughout California.


Today there are thousands of criminal defense attorneys practicing throughout California offering experienced representation in matters involving misdemeanors all the way up through felonies carrying severe punishments including life imprisonment or even death sentences.

 Criminal defense attorneys utilize current laws along with case law established over hundreds of years by often relying on precedential decisions made during influential trials such as those argued by Clarence Darrow which remain relevant today more than 80 years after they were first heard in courtrooms across our state.


In conclusion, lawyers have been an integral part of establishing and expanding justice within California since its establishment as a state over 150 years ago by helping ensure that everyone receives fair representation regardless of their social status or financial means no matter what crime they are charged with committing. The criminal defense attorneys from California, are the only one who can prove your innocence. As new technologies expand our capabilities for obtaining evidence such as DNA testing along with reform movements dedicated to protecting citizens’ rights — especially those facing serious charges — it is clear that lawyers will play an ever-increasing role in advancing justice within our great state well into the next century.