4.13.2012

Should you Hire a Virginia Criminal Lawyer or Choose a Public Defender?

Hiring a Virginia criminal lawyer can be an expensive undertaking which could put great pressure on your finances. The other option for those who genuinely cannot afford to hire a private lawyer is to opt for a public defender or court appointed lawyer. It is your constitutional right to free legal counsel which is paid for by the state, however in most states you will need to provide proof first that you do not have the means to hire a private criminal lawyer.

There does exist however, a distinct distrust of public defenders, so much so that people will go to great lengths to afford a private Virginia criminal lawyer, maxing out their credit cards and taking out second mortgages. The question is by choosing a public defender, would you be putting your case at risk?

Truth be known, hiring a private criminal lawyer is no guarantee of success in court, no matter how good a track record they have. There are many lawyers available to hire but you will nee d to carry out extensive research into their background first to discover whether or not they have the credentials and experience you need. And even though by hiring a private lawyer you will get to choose who represents you, you need to be able to choose wisely in the first place.
What many people do not realize is that a court appointed criminal lawyer or public defender is a defense specialist who practice criminal law on a daily basis. They gain experience quickly because of large caseloads and are often surrounded by other lawyers and legal professionals with whom they can consult with. A private Virginia criminal lawyer by contrast often works alone without supervision and is usually forced into accepting any case which comes their way in order to survive financially. This can often result in lawyers taking on cases in many different areas of law rather than specializing only in criminal law.

A public defender will have expert knowledge of court procedures and personnel and often work solely within one court, unlike private lawyers who will work in many. As a result they will know the judges, court clerks and other court personnel well enough to be able to provide a defense tailored to a certain prosecutor in order to get the best outcome for you. It should be noted also that court appointed lawyers have only marginally lower success rates than private criminal lawyers.

You can request a public defender at your arraignment hearing and if you are proved to be eligible the judge in your case will appoint one to you straight away. Once a lawyer is appointed you will not be able to change them unless you can prove they are acting in a way which is not in your best interests or they are committing malpractice. You do have the option however of changing to a private Virginia criminal lawyer at anytime.



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