An important decision to make in a criminal case is choosing between a public defender and a private attorney to represent you in court. The attorney you choose may make a huge difference between having your case dismissed versus a conviction. The reliable attorney you need must be well experienced and able to allocate sufficient time to review and investigate your case for a strong defense. When you are arrested on criminal charges and faced with financial strain, choosing a reliable attorney that you can afford is a necessity. Here are some factors to help you decide between hiring a private attorney and accepting the public defender that the court provides you with.
1. The Cost Of Their Legal Services
Before you assume that all public defenders offer their services for free, you need to check the state laws and regulations with your local court. This is essential as some states require that you pay back your public defender based on what you can afford.
Many private attorneys or law firms understand that a large number of people do not have enough funds to finance their legal needs most especially when cases suddenly occur. This is why many offer their first consultation for free to discuss the case and then offer payment plans suited for their clients. You can also retain them by paying a small deposit along with an affordable monthly payment arrangement.
2. Years Of Their Experience
Public defenders are underpaid and overworked as they handle a variety of cases in one time. This indicates that they do not have the specialization and sufficient time to spend on each case due to their given workloads. Nevertheless, quite a number of public defendants can produce good results for their clients within a short time frame with the help of their broad experience in various types of criminal cases.
Reputation is everything to private attorneys and it says a lot about their years of experience in court. Their experience also makes them flawless in communicating and precise when negotiating with prosecutors and judges. Since a law firm will be made of several attorneys, each one of them will have their own specialization which makes it an advantage to you. In fact, if your attorney has a feared reputation, the chances of being offered a favorable plea-deal is higher because prosecutors do not often take a case to trial if they do not believe that they will win.
3. Availability Of Resources
Sadly, public defenders do not always have all the necessary resources they need at their disposal. Since they work for the state, the state provides them with the resources they may need which are often limited.
They will have an existing network of private investigators, private chemical testing laboratories, expert witnesses, paralegals and associate lawyers that can be called up to provide their expertise on your case.
4. Length Of Time For Case To Be Resolved
Considering the fact that public defenders manage several cases simultaneously, court appearance may conflict with client schedules. Serious criminal cases handled by public defenders will be given higher priority compared to simple DUI cases so low priority cases court dates are sometimes pushed back to make way for other cases. This is time consuming and you will not get enough time to discuss the case with your attorney except for a few minutes before trial.
You can always consult with your attorney over the phone or at their office. They can also attend court on your behalf when it is not necessary for you to appear. This allows you to stay on track with the latest developments of your case. Criminal cases which are usually handled by private attorneys do not take too much time in court to reach a resolution.
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Valerie Gordon is a freelance writer specializing in well being and legal issues. She also blogs for ActionLegalGroupWA.com about DUI prevention and why choosing a reliable private attorney is better than having a public defender handle criminal cases.