Criminal Defense Attorney or Public Defense
SHOULD YOU HIRE YOUR OWN ATTORNEY OR USE THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, IF YOU HAVE A CASE PENDING IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY?
This is a common question that I have been asked many times over the course of the past 25 years of practicing criminal law. There are many good Deputy Public Defenders in the Los Angeles courthouses that I have met, know and tried cases with. The one big advantage that a private attorney will typically have over them is time. Public Defenders do not get to select the cases them are given, while private attorneys do. Also, sometimes the system is set up in such a way that the Public Defender is handed a stack of files and given a limited amount of time to prepare before their cases begin to be called by the court. A private attorney, on the other hand, usually has the benefit of talking to the family and even the client before they have to do anything on the case. Therefore, they can come in prepared and ready to go before the court date. This gives the client the best chance of a successful result in my experience.
Another factor that must be considered is that the Public Defender is not getting paid any extra to represent their clients. This sometimes leads to them not being very patient and not going that extra mile for the clients. Some of the issues that exist between P.D.s and their clients make common sense by the very nature of the relationship. Hence it is my recommendation, that if you can afford it, you should consider hiring a private attorney and give yourself the best chance of achieving a result you can live with and be certain you did everything you could on your end to be successful.
All of the above being said, there are many good Public Defenders that can handle criminal defense matters in a successful manner. The issue is finding one that you get along with and you feel has your best interests at heart. This is not always easy and you do not get to pick your P.D., they are assigned to you and it is not easy to get rid of them. Finally, again you should at least consult a private attorney so you can get a feel for how they do business. Many of them will give you a reasonable fee and try and work with you depending on the case and the court location. I try to work with clients in every way possible, because I know that if I do a good job for them, they will refer more clients to me and this is the best way to build and enjoy a successful criminal defense practice.
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