Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to counsel (i.e. public defenders) to help bring their defense. For most defendants, this means a public defender can be assigned to your case to represent you. Although the public defender’s office has many dedicated attorneys, the reality is that most defendants are better off hiring their own. Our Virginia criminal defense attorney looks at 4 top reasons you should call your own lawyer and not rely on public defenders.
Public Defenders Have Heavy Caseloads
The Virginia public defender’s office is definitely understaffed, with 1 public defender for every 348,581 people in the state. Advocates regularly make pleas for increased funding so that the public defender offices can hire more attorneys, but these pleas usually fall on deaf ears. Staffing shortages have persisted for decades.
If you are assigned a public defender, you might be only 1 of 100 active cases that this lawyer is dealing with. No matter how talented or hard working the lawyer, the reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day. Unless you are charged with a violent felony, it is unlikely that your case will receive special attention.
Public Defenders Are Pressed for Time
This is a consequence of their heavy caseloads. Unfortunately, bringing a proper defense often takes a lot of time and energy. For example, your attorney might need to do necessary investigation to find witnesses or evidence that supports your defense. If you want to suppress evidence, your attorney must draft a detailed motion and prepare to argue it in court. This type of defense work takes a considerable amount of time, and there is enormous pressure on public defenders to cut corners and close cases.
At our firm, we fully review all the evidence in the case, taking as much time as we need to fully understand the facts. This type of searching review is necessary to bring the best defense possible. When lawyers lack the time, they bring “off the shelf” type of defenses that are often ineffective.
Even worse, a lawyer who is overwhelmed might press clients to take the first plea offer. Although a plea bargain is sometimes the best deal available, it isn’t always. We will level with our clients and advise them to fight when they have a strong chance of success.
Public Defenders Lack Necessary Resources
A private Virginia criminal defense attorney can often lean on an extensive network of professionals to help with a defense, including private investigators and jury consultants. Public defenders typically do not have the funds to use these services or must make a special request. In close cases where the evidence could go either way, these resources often can make a difference.
Many Public Defenders Lack Necessary Experience
There is some truth to the image of a public defender as a graduate fresh out of law school. Certainly, many defenders who handle non-violent felonies are often cutting their teeth on your case. More experienced defenders find their way up to middle management or handle the highest-profile felonies.
With so much hanging in the balance, why should you put your future in the hands of an inexperienced attorney? Instead, hire an attorney who has tackled dozens of cases like your own and stays abreast of recent changes in the law. There is no substitute for experience.
Ready to Discuss Your Case with a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney?
Del Rio Law, PLLC has the depth and breadth of experience to properly defend you against felony and misdemeanor charges. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation to review the facts and decide whether to go forward.