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This article is from Michael Kotik, a leading Philadelphia criminal lawyer. It can be a difficult and frightening time when people are facing criminal charges. Laws and the judicial system are complicated areas. It takes people years to learn the intricacies of navigating criminal courts and laws. The process can be moving along quickly regardless of the accused’s level of understanding. This is why it is best to have an attorney present to represent your interests and defend you as your case progresses.
Having an attorney represent you isn’t just a good idea, it’s also a legal requirement. As the Miranda rights advise, you have the right to have your attorney present when you are placed under arrest or held for questioning. If you are unable to afford the cost of a private attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you at no cost. This may sound like a get out of jail free card, but it is too often quite the opposite.
It is usually better to hire a private attorney than going with a court-appointed attorney. An attorney appointed by the court is called a public defender. You don’t get a voice in deciding who will be your public defender. Frequently, a public defender doesn’t meet with their client until minutes before they stand in front of the judge to plea their case.
Public defenders are government employees who are often overworked and underpaid. Though they are capable, hard working and intelligent lawyers, they carry heavy caseloads and are unable to give any one case a significant amount of attention.
Because they juggle so many cases at a time, public defenders aren’t able to delve deeply into the details of the facts and circumstances surrounding every case. They may miss finer points or key evidence that only extensive analysis can uncover. A public defender may recommend a plea bargain to a defendant whose case is winnable only because they don’t have the time required to develop a successful defense.
On the plus side, a public defender is provided to you at no cost. They are typically well versed in criminal law and are well known in the courtrooms. They often have built the type of inside relationships with judges and prosecuting attorneys that can prove helpful during plea bargaining.
But, if you hire the right private attorney, he or she too will have built relationships with others in the court system that will help guide their decision-making process about which tactics to take in your case.
The only downside to a private attorney is that they can be costly. But when we are talking about your life now and your quality of life in the future, the expense is more than worth it. As luck will have it, there is no get out of jail free card you can hand a judge. Getting out of jail will often require incurring the expense of hiring a private attorney.
However, the advantages of hiring a private attorney are many. You can review several private attorneys before you decide which one is right for your particular needs. You will have the opportunity to meet with the private attorney you choose well in advance of your court dates.
A private attorney will have much more time to devote to the analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Many times, they have assistants and associates who can help them examine details and develop different strategies to take in your defense.
Not only do private attorneys have others in their office to help support them, they can also take the time necessary to hire outside consultants or expert services that can improve your odds of winning. They will use practiced discovery methods to increase the time they have to discover and evaluate new evidence. They will often know the best private detectives to hire to uncover information that otherwise wouldn’t have come to light without further investigation.
Private attorneys take their role as counselors seriously. They meet with their clients more often and generally have the time to discuss and explain significant details of the case to you. You are able to make informed decisions based on an understanding of the facts, the likelihood of success, and potential consequences that a private attorney will provide during counseling.
Private attorneys rely on their reputations to obtain new clients. They are willing and able to work hard to win difficult cases. They have the time to devote and the desire to pursue every angle to win your case.
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