There are so many things that one has to take into account after arrest. Whether it be what type of bond to get or how to pay the fines and fees. However, one of the biggest decisions that will have to be made is what to do about representation. For those lucky enough to have the resources, hiring a specialized attorney can be a great asset but if you are like most, you probably don’t have the money to pay someone thousands. If this is the case, you end up with two options: either represent yourself or try and work with a public defender. If you do decide to go with a public defender, there are some things to know that may surprise you, here is a rundown.
It’s not a guarantee that you will get a public defender
It tends to be assumed that it is your right to have a public defender if you so choose to have one to represent you, however, it is more complicated than that. Public defenders are actually only assigned to defendants after proving that they are in financial need of one and that they don’t have the resources to just hire a lawyer. This is done by filling out an application that will have you submit documentation about your finances and depending on the threshold, they may deny your application, assign a public defender but only a subsidized cost or offer one at no cost if you are shown to not have enough money.
There are no options on who you get
If and when you are assigned a public defender, it’s important to note that you tend to get who you get. This is obviously different from when you hire your own lawyer where you would have a pool of options. This can be good because you can work with them straight away but it is also a bit of a challenge because they may not be as knowledgeable in certain types of crimes or there may be a personality clash that can affect the working relationship.
Public defenders have a lot going on at any given time
When someone gets assigned a public defender, it could make sense that they would think that they are the only client for that lawyer but unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Public defenders often have huge caseloads and are almost always stretched incredibly thin. This is not to mean that they won’t put any time into your case, but it does mean that they most likely won’t be able to dedicate quite as much in time and resources as a private lawyer would. One benefit that they do have over other lawyers however is the knowledge that comes with spending so much time in specific districts. Public Defenders probably know many of the other lawyers and judges and may have better insight into how they think which could be beneficial in knowing how to go with defense.
In conclusion, while a more specialized lawyer may be ideal, a public defender can still help greatly in helping a defendant tell their side and hopefully get them the best possible outcome.