You’ve all seen the dramatic crime shows where a cop reads the Miranda Rights to a suspect before putting them in the back of a cop car and driving off. “You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future,” recites the arresting officer.
What do these rights mean though? It means that you can’t be tried unless you were offered legal representation. However, if you meet certain criteria you may choose between a public defender and a private attorney. This choice can make the difference between a guilty or innocent verdict.
Private Attorney vs. Public Defender
A private attorney is a lawyer you hire to represent you in court. Hiring a private attorney is a good choice because they will have the time and resources to advise you and build a strong case. The only con is that they can come with hefty legal fees.
According to the sixth amendment, all people have the right to a lawyer. If you can’t afford an attorney the court will appoint you a public defender.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
A private attorney selects which cases they want to take on. This means they can ensure there’s enough time to research and construct a strong defense. Good private attorneys only take on the number of cases they can successfully handle, and are more likely to have staff that can help them research. Also, private attorneys usually specialize in a certain area of law. If they don’t specialize in the area you need, someone else at their firm might.
Private attorneys also have more resources to build a defense. When the defendant pays, a lawyer can afford to get expert witnesses, private labs, and run tests that can prove your innocence.
Problems With Taking a Public Defender
Public defenders are a great option to secure representation. Some people don’t have the budget to hire a private attorney. This option ensures that you won’t be left to represent yourself with no knowledge of the legal system. However, there are some problems with going this route.
Public defenders are overworked. Anyone facing criminal charges who can’t afford an attorney is appointed a public defender. There aren’t enough public defenders, so the ones available are spread thin. They are expected to represent every individual who comes through the court system even if it’s a simple misdemeanor. They also don’t usually have one area of law they specialize in because they’re too busy and have to manage different types of cases.
Not all public defenders are a good match for you or your case. Sometimes you’ll get a defender that isn’t acting in your best interest. Then you should shop around for legal counsel and find someone dedicated to working your case. Studies show that people represented by public defenders are more likely to get a guilty verdict.
Options If You Can’t Afford a Private Attorney
Crowdfunding through sites like GoFundMe are a popular way of getting money to pay for large fees. This can include legal fees. Crowdfunding helps you avoid troubling individuals to help you directly. You can share your fundraiser across social media platforms and anyone can choose to help you. This is a good strategy because you can expand your network. Strangers who read about your case and empathize may contribute too!
Research local non-profit organizations and legal aid funds. Oftentimes, people donate money to local charities that can be used to help pay legal fees. Find one in your area and contact them about your case.
Friends and family are also a good resource. If you want to take a more direct approach, instead of relying on crowdfunding just ask. You never know who may have some money set aside that would be willing to help you.
Davis, Ermis, & Roberts
The legal system is complicated and overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. Our attorneys are skilled in a variety of specialized areas so we can properly defend you in court. If you’re looking for an experienced attorney who cares, hire one of our top-notch lawyers at Davis, Ermis & Roberts.