If you’ve been charged with a crime and you don’t have much money, you may be considering having a public defender take your case. The U.S. Constitution mandates that people who can’t afford an attorney can have one appointed to defend them. However, this is not the best strategy. If you can borrow money or know someone who would be willing to pay a defense attorney for you, definitely consider these options.
The Overworked Public Defense System
Up to 95 percent of individuals represented by public defenders plead guilty in a plea bargain. In addition, people represented by public defenders receive significantly longer prison sentences on average, according to a 2007 article in the New York Times.
This isn’t because public defenders are inexperienced or unskilled, but because they have so many cases that there’s no time to adequately defend their clients.
The Importance of Private Counsel for Lesser Offenses
It appears that many individuals choose a public defender rather than private counsel if they are charged with an offense that doesn’t have the risk of a very long prison sentence, notes the 2007 article. If charged with murder — especially if the person is innocent — he or she will go to great lengths to pay for a private attorney.
However, going with a public defender for a lesser offense can backfire. Whereas a private attorney may have the time and resources to make sure you only receive a sentence of probation in a plea bargain, a public defender may feel forced to plead your case for a jail term.
Some Specific Advantages of Hiring Private Counsel
Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer provides you with specific advantages that public defenders simply don’t have the time to offer. Some of the services the lawyer may provide you with include:
This is a stressful and probably embarrassing time for you. You may hate the idea of approaching relatives and friends for financial help. You may not want to borrow a relatively large amount of money from a financial institution. Nevertheless, if you have people who are willing to help, this is the time to hire a private defense attorney and do everything possible to avoid a harsh sentence.Learn More
Even in the 21st century, getting a divorce can be embarrassing. You don’t like people thinking that your marriage was a failure and that you couldn’t somehow keep the relationship together. As you consult a divorce attorney, do your best not to feel uncomfortable when talking with this legal professional. You’ll need to provide details of your financial situation and perhaps of your own personal situation, so it’s important to have full trust in your lawyer.
Be upfront with your lawyer if you are having money problems right now. It’s possible your spouse depleted your checking and savings accounts and that you don’t have access to credit. Your attorney may require some funds as a retainer fee, but will likely let you pay the full amount you owe to the firm once the divorce is final and you have some money again.
In fact, if your spouse is much better off financially than you are, your lawyer may demand that he or she pay your legal costs. A judge may uphold that demand and order your spouse to pay. That’s especially likely if your spouse initiated the divorce proceedings or caused the problems that led to the filing.
Previous Problematic Decisions
You may feel that some of your previous decisions regarding your marriage were not very smart, but don’t feel embarrassed when talking about these issues with your lawyer. For instance, you may have signed a prenuptial agreement that you regret now. Your lawyer will do everything in his or her power to discover problems with that agreement that are in your favor so you can receive your fair share.
If your spouse cheated on you, then you might wish to keep this a secret. However, if your spouse is fighting the divorce or battling you for assets or child custody, it’s important you divulge his or her bad behavior to your lawyer. Your attorney can use these factors in court as long as there is evidence of the affairs. That evidence might include photos, lodging receipts or testimony from witnesses.
If any embarrassing personal details of your own may come up during the proceedings, tell your lawyer rather than try to keep them hidden. It can hurt your case if your attorney is blindsided by that information during a trial.
What Can You Do Now?
Contact the lawyer you want to act as your divorce attorney. Ask any questions you have and be honest when answering the lawyer’s questions. This legal professional will put forth every effort to make the situation work in your favor as much as possible. For more information about the services of a divorce attorney, contact a firm such as Taliana Buckley & Asa.Learn More