3 Things To Know About Public Defenders

11 March 2015
 Categories: , Articles

After being charged with a crime, you will need to go to court for a trial. To do this, you will need a criminal defense attorney to represent you, but hiring an attorney can be expensive. Because there are people who cannot afford to hire attorneys, the justice system provides free representation to those who need it. Before you decide to have the court appoint an attorney for you, here are three things you should understand.

This Offer Is Only For People That Need It

Courts appointing attorneys to people charged with crimes is not something that has always been present in this country. It was not until 1963 that this law took effect, and it was the result of the court case known as Gideon v. Wainwright. The Constitution states that people have the right to a fair trial if they are charged with a crime, yet it can be difficult to have a fair trial when a person does not have a lawyer.

Because of this, the US now appoints public defenders to people when needed. Before a court will do this, the judge will ask you a series of questions. He or she will want to know if you have:

  • Money in the bank
  • A job
  • A car
  • Any land, real estate, or assets

If the judge feels that you cannot afford to hire an attorney yourself, he or she will appoint one to you. This will be a criminal defense attorney, but the court often calls them public defenders.

How They Are Paid

Public defenders generally work for the state and are paid by the state. If the public defenders currently have too many cases, the judge may appoint a private attorney instead. If this happens, the state also pays the private attorney for the services.

Private attorneys generally make more money than public defenders, simply because each state has limited funds to pay for these services. You can benefit from this though because you can receive free legal services from the defender that is appointed to you. You may have to pay for court costs or other related expenses, but the actual legal fees are free.

Pros And Cons Of Having A Public Defender

One of the main benefits of letting the court appoint an attorney to you is that you will not have to pay for the legal services. You should also know that public defenders have the responsibility and obligation to offer you the best services possible.

Another key benefit of having a public defender is the experience. Public defenders handle a lot of cases, and they always represent the criminals in the cases. Because of the large number of cases they handle, they generally know the court system well, and this can be advantageous to people that are charged with crimes.

There are several disadvantages of this though, including that public defenders typically have extremely heavy caseloads. In other words, they are often involved with dozens of cases (or more) at any given time. This reduces the amount of time they have to spend on any particular case, and this can be viewed as a disadvantage.

The second disadvantage is the limited funds they have. With a lack of funds, it can be hard for a public defender to complete the necessary research needed for a case. In addition, public defenders are not usually able to hire experts to offer testimony on cases because this can be expensive.

If you are charged with a crime and want the best possible legal assistance, you may want to hire a criminal defense attorney on your own. While this can be more costly, it may offer the best results for your case. Go to sites for criminal defense lawyers for more information.