When faced with criminal charges, it can be tempting to use a public defender if you qualify. However, relying on a public defender or representing yourself can cause major problems, potentially jeopardizing your future. Here are a few of the benefits of hiring a private defense lawyer and why it’s worth the extra cost.
Send a Message
When most people think about criminal cases, they think of court proceedings. However, more than 90 percent of all cases end with a plea bargain (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/us/stronger-hand-for-judges-after-rulings-on-plea-deals.html). By hiring a lawyer, you tell the prosecutor that you’re willing to fight the charges, which can lead to a far more favorable plea deal than public defenders typically receive. Furthermore, your lawyer can explain how you intend to fight and, in some cases, persuade the prosecutor to drop charges.
Facing criminal charges often means making difficult decisions. Because court systems are often overwhelmed, prosecutors are quick to offer plea bargains. Even if it means facing probation or other sanctions, it might be in your best interest to take a plea bargain, and your lawyer can help you make an informed decision. Prosecutors will also sometimes bluff would-be defendants and threaten to bring a case of dubious merit. Again, your lawyer can tell you when it’s best to fight by bringing the case to trial, potentially leading to a full acquittal.
Outside of the Courts
Your behavior can have an influence on prosecutors, judges and juries, and your lawyer can give you instructions for making a positive impression. For example, substance abuse counseling can send a message of responsibility, which can have a strong impact in court. Even small factors, such as how you dress, can sway individuals. Having a criminal defense attorney means you’ll have the coaching you need to reach a positive resolution.
Knowledge of the Local System
The justice system is designed to be impartial, but prosecutors and judges have significant influence. Your defense attorney will know how to best deal with varying personalities. By hiring a Cambridge criminal defense attorney, for example, you can gain insight into the people who will be prosecuting your case and serving as judges, and this information can help you make the right decision.
While most public defenders try to help their clients, they’re also typically paid by the case, and many have to sort through cases as quickly as possible to make a decent income. Many criminal defense attorneys provide only a quick overview of the charges presented and a quick negotiation for a plea deal. Private defense lawyers, on the other hand, will give your case the time it demands. If your case makes it to trial, this time commitment is even more important as information uncovered during discovery can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Facing criminal charges can be terrifying, and the difference between full exoneration and jail time can hinge on seemingly minor factors. By speaking with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, you can increase your chances of achieving a positive outcome.