In the United States, every individual accused of a crime has a constitutional right to legal representation. If you are unable to afford an attorney, you can request the court to appoint one for you. Many people consider opting for a public defender instead of a retained private attorney, believing it will save them money. However, choosing a court-appointed attorney may not always be the best course of action.
Michigan’s Public Defender System
Michigan does not have a single, unified public defender system. Instead, each county has its own way of organizing, appointing, and compensating lawyers who represent indigent criminal defendants.
To qualify for a public defender in Michigan, two conditions must be met: first, you must face the possibility of imprisonment if convicted, and second, you must be unable to afford your own attorney. It’s important to note that even though your attorney may be court-appointed, their services may not be entirely free. Many Michigan courts use a sliding scale to determine the amount you are required to repay, based on what the judge decides you can afford.
When appointed a public defender, rest assured that your lawyer is a law school graduate who has passed the bar exam. They are qualified to represent you and likely have experience defending other individuals facing criminal charges. However, it’s crucial to understand that public defenders often have limitations in terms of the level of support they can provide, the amount of time they can dedicate to your case, and the approval the court grants for case-related expenses.
While many public defenders are highly qualified, hard-working, and dedicated, they may not be able to offer you a tailored defense strategy or allocate sufficient time to build a compelling case or reduce potential penalties if you are convicted.
Hidden Costs of a Public Defender
Public defenders are government-paid, court-appointed lawyers who work tirelessly to protect the rights of the accused. However, there are often limitations to what they can do.
Lack of Choice
One immediate drawback of being represented by a public defender is that you have no say in selecting your attorney. You could be assigned a lawyer with decades of experience who frequently handles cases similar to yours, or you could end up with an attorney fresh out of law school who has never dealt with a case like yours before. There’s no way to know in advance.
Public defenders often have heavy caseloads since they are appointed by the court. As a result, they must divide their attention among many clients. Additionally, due to relatively lower compensation and potential fee caps, public defenders may not be as motivated or have the capacity to invest extensive time and effort into your case.
Lack of Specialization
While public defenders are licensed attorneys, they often lack the specialization that retained attorneys possess. Public defenders frequently experience high turnover, meaning that your court-appointed lawyer may not have the same background and experience in handling cases involving the specific type of crime you have been charged with.
Lack of Resources
Public defenders are government-funded and require court approval for case expenses. Even if a crucial expert witness could greatly impact your case’s outcome, the court may refuse to approve the expenditure, potentially leading to an unjust verdict. Despite their competence, public defenders often lack the time and resources necessary to thoroughly investigate your case and mount a compelling defense.
If You Can Afford to Hire a Private Attorney, You Should
The good news is that you are not obligated to stick with a public defender. If you have the means to hire a private attorney, you have the right to choose the lawyer who will represent you.
While hiring a private attorney may involve a higher upfront cost, selecting experienced counsel with expertise in handling cases similar to yours may ultimately save you money in the long run. The benefits include achieving better results, reduced fines, and potentially avoiding imprisonment.
Retained attorneys can dedicate more time to your case because they have the luxury of selecting which cases they take on and can control their caseload. Furthermore, private attorneys do not need court approval for additional case expenses, such as evidence testing, hiring private investigators, or securing expert witnesses.
When facing criminal charges that could result in substantial fines and potential jail time, it is essential to obtain the best possible defense within your means. Cutting corners is not advisable in such circumstances. By paying for a private defense attorney capable of conducting a thorough investigation and mounting a vigorous and tailored defense, you increase the chances of avoiding imprisonment and the harshest penalties associated with a criminal conviction. The money invested in reliable legal representation will undoubtedly be worth it.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in Michigan, it is crucial to seek experienced and aggressive legal representation. Garrity Traina is equipped to carefully analyze and investigate your situation, devise a customized defense strategy, and passionately fight to protect your rights.
Based in Ann Arbor, Garrity Traina proudly serves clients throughout Michigan, including Saline, Pittsfield Township, Chelsea, and Ypsilanti. Their expertise extends to Washtenaw, Wayne, Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Ingham, Livingston, and Oakland Counties.
To gain more information about Attorney Robert Elmen and the services provided, please call (734) 707-8915 or visit Garrity Traina’s website to schedule a confidential consultation regarding your case.