After paying bond and getting situated with everything in regards to an arrest, one must decide what they want to do about representation during their scheduled arraignment later down the line. For most, the concept of hiring a lawyer may not be possible unless they have the cash and resources to afford one. For this reason, many will either choose to represent themselves, which comes with risks, or they opt for a public defender. If you or a loved one are deciding that a public defender is your best option, here are some things to know.
Applications are mandatory
One of the most surprising facts about public defenders is that you actually have to apply to be assigned to one. This is obviously very different than what is shown in tv and movies not to mention what is even stated in the Miranda rights but in order to get a public defender, you have to prove financial needs and that is done through applications. When you fill out the application, you will be asked about what resources you have and how much you make, and then based on that they may either partially subsidize the cost, meaning that it won’t be completely free, or if the income is low enough, they may assign the public defender at no cost. Either way, they do this to make sure that people who have the means to hire a lawyer just don’t opt for a public defender to save some cash because it takes away time and resources from those who really need it.
You don’t have options on who is assigned
While the major benefit of hiring your own personal lawyer, is you get to choose exactly who you want and go with someone who specializes in the type of charges you are dealing with but when it comes to public defenders, you do not have the same options and will have to work with whoever the courts assign to your case. This is not to mean that they are not able to do a good job in representing you, but it does mean that they may not have the same expertise as someone who specializes in a specific field. When they are assigned to you however, they do whatever they can to help you either win your case or at least get the best possible outcome.
Public defenders have a lot of clients
When you get a public defender assigned to you, it is also important to note that they will most likely have a lot of clients they are working with at the same time. As said before, this does not mean that they won’t consider you a priority or that they won’t do all that they can for you, but it does mean that more than likely they are stretch thin and can only spend so much time devoted to any one case. The one upside however is pubic defenders often know the counties they work in incredibly well and may have better insight on how a judge will lean on things just due to prior encounters while a private lawyer may not have any experience within certain court systems.
Overall, while working with a public defender may not be always ideal, they are still a great benefit in helping with your case and despite their hectic caseloads and long hours, they will do all they can to represent you well.