Imagine being charged with a criminal offense. In a circumstance as potentially life-altering as this, should one leave his or her criminal defense to a public defender, or would it be wiser to trust the case to a professional criminal defense lawyer?
The answer should be obvious, but quite often isn’t. A highly trained criminal defense attorney can offer the attention and expertise to a case that most defenders do not have the time or resources to manage. For example, recent studies have shown that public defender’s offices are underfunded and that the lawyers working there are overworked with impossible caseloads. The American Bar Association recommends a prescribed number of felony and misdemeanor cases per public defender per year, yet those numbers are routinely doubled and tripled at the expense of the defendants. Private criminal defense lawyers, on the other hand, are not subjected to such unachievable caseload expectations.
Criminal defense attorneys are often specialists in particular areas of law that public defenders are not. With the overload of casework that many defenders are expected to contend with, they are often forced to be generalists and are not able to provide specific or detailed attention to cases that defense lawyers are. As such, public defenders are often unable to navigate the finer points of one’s defense, whereas a professional criminal defense attorney, being intimately acquainted with the intricacies of criminal law, will be able to assess the precise aspects of a case and offer expert advice.
Although there is no question that a defender will work as hard as he can to resolve a case to the best of his ability, research shows that many public defenders have less than a single hour to devote to any given claim. Frequently, they are unable to even meet with their clients before appearing in court. When one hires a defense lawyer, however, one can expect a level of support that ensures a complete understanding of the judicial process during every step of the proceedings. A criminal defense lawyer will also provide clients with the knowledge of the various options available which advocates from the public defender’s office may not be aware of.
Most importantly, a defense lawyer can guide one through the overwhelming challenges that present themselves within the criminal court system. Knowing which steps to take and how to most successfully take them could mean the difference between an undeserved jail sentence and a possible dismissal of all charges. One should never leave the fate of a criminal court case to chance or to an overworked public defender’s office when a criminal defense lawyer is available to protect your Constitutional rights.