Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reasons to Hire a Private Defense Lawyer If You Can

I have spent the last 12 years or so as a Public Defender. This article is not meant to slag on that (mostly) group of hard working, smart, tough lawyers. I always used to tell clients one of the benefits of having private counsel was that they had more time for the client. Until I became a private lawyer a few months ago, I never realized how true that is. I would like anyone reading this to consider hiring a private lawyer, at least at first. Let me give you a real life example of how this can be helpful. I have a client who the State is considering charging with a serious crime. He retained me even before he surrendered to the police. As a result I was able to secure some potentially exculpatory evidence for him. If he had waited until he was arraigned and a public defender appointed, that evidence WOULD have been gone. In this case, his early retention of counsel may literally save his life. In any case where you think that evidence may exist, it would be wise to retain counsel early on.

It goes without saying that a case that involves complex or novel legal issues may also be best served by a private lawyer. I never realized just how crushing the volume of a public defender's workload was until I didn't have it anymore. One of my absolute favorite things to say to clients is a simple life truth: money is replaceable. Time isn't. Folks charged with a crime need to understand that the system is stacked against them. It is not fair and it isn't meant to be. Every day the State grabs more power for itself. There is no way to navigate that system without competent counsel. Another real benefit to hiring private counsel is the amount of time that you will be in court. I always used to resent it as a public defender when private counsel breezed through court. Now I understand it. The person with a paid lawyer paid for it. They are probably employed since they didn't qualify for the public defender. Therefore it makes sense that they get in and out of court as quickly as possible. If your time is valuable, you will want to consider hiring private counsel.

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