Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer or Use a Public Defender?
This article is from Michael Kotik, from LegalPhilly.com, a top rated criminal attorney. People accused of crimes in the United States frequently wrestle with a difficult question. Should a defendant consider obtaining representation from a private attorney? By law a court must appoint an attorney to provide representation for defendants who cannot afford representation. Yet some very good reasons support retaining a criminal defense attorney instead of relying upon a public defender if you can possibly do so. Just consider a few reasons why you might want to take the step of seeking private legal representation if you find yourself accused of criminal charges:
One: Case Load Issues
How many cases will your attorney manage during the course of a week? Attorneys working as full-time public defenders often represent a significant number of clients during a typical work week. They cannot always spend a lot of time meeting with individual clients, investigating the details of cases, answering phone calls, or consulting about specific case details with prosecutors. They simply struggle with too heavy a work load to perform at optimum levels continually.
Representing a client in a legal matter requires a significant time commitment. Attorneys must familiarize themselves with every detail in a case. Most attorneys in private practice eventually retain paralegals and other assistants to help them research legal precedents, interview witnesses and organize their files. Unfortunately, busy public defenders often lack extensive resources to spend on those activities. They will direct their efforts towards the most serious cases requiring their attention. Even when representing people in grave matters, they may find themselves struggling to keep the details of different fact situations clear. When you hire a criminal defense lawyer, your case stands a much better chance of becoming a top priority!
Two: Experience Levels
If you rely for your defense upon an appointed public defender, you don’t know in advance whether or not your attorney will possess extensive experience handling criminal cases, either. Many fledgling lawyers working to develop private civil law practices will agree to accept criminal cases by appointment. Sometimes these part-time public defenders value criminal law matters because these cases give them their first real opportunity to handle contested cases in court. Do you really want to take the risk of becoming someone else’s “learning curve”?
By hiring an experienced full-time criminal defense attorney to represent you, you’ll gain the assurance your legal counsel knows his or her way around a criminal law courtroom. Criminal defense lawyers earn their living by closely following developments in the law within their field. They typically know the names, opinions and performance records of different local prosecutors and judges. They make an effort to stay informed about new trends in specialized types of criminal law cases by undertaking continuing education courses in those subjects.
Three: Personal Rapport
When you hire any professional as a representative, you’ll gain the opportunity to explore that person’s biases, skills and motivations during your initial meeting. For instance, you probably want to locate an attorney with whom you feel you can develop a good rapport. By working with a legal representative you know and like, you’ll feel more comfortable discussing the details of your case and asking questions about matters that concern you. You don’t always enjoy the same latitude when a public defender represents you. When you cannot afford representation, it proves very difficult to maintain a selective attitude about the personality and prejudices of your lawyer!
In the past, cases have arisen in which public defenders performed so poorly that convicted criminal defendants later argued they should receive new trials. Judges have listened to appeals claiming appointed counsel actually fell asleep during the courtroom trial. By retaining your own lawyer to represent your case, you stand a much better opportunity of developing a good working relationship with that person. You can find an attorney who cares about winning your case almost as much as you do!
Invest Your Resources Wisely
For all these reasons, and many more, criminal defendants may decide that obtaining the services of a private criminal defense attorney warrants a significant financial sacrifice. The quality of your legal representation typically impacts every aspect of your case.
The recommendations of legal counsel matter enormously to most criminal defendants. Issues such as pretrial motions, pretrial hearings, discussions with prosecutors, and media coverage may all play a role in the way a case unfolds before trial. During criminal trials, a host of further issues arise which may create an uneven playing field for accused defendants relying upon appointed counsel. Although the decision to retain a talented criminal defense lawyer may prove costly for an accused from a financial standpoint, it may ultimately make a huge difference in an individual defense!