Allow me to present a situation. You’re being arrested for a DUI and the officer reads you your Miranda Rights. When he reaches the last sentence, “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you”, you inwardly feel slightly relieved. You might assume that hiring a private DUI defense attorney could be beyond your financial grasp. Knowing that you could still get a lawyer based on your ability to pay sounds too good to be true, right?
Yes, unfortunately, it just might be.
The pitfalls benefits of using a private attorney over a public defender for your DUI
It’s important to say that this blog post is not meant to disparage in any way the hard work and dedication of public defenders. The option of receiving legal representation from an appointed public defender is clearly one that can be hugely beneficial for someone who would not otherwise be able to hire a private attorney. Additionally, many attorneys who work in this capacity are excellent at what they do and will work just as hard in your defense.
On the other hand, this system is not without flaws. And it would be irresponsible not to address a couple of the common issues that can also come from these arrangements, especially with regards to DUI cases.
● Less focused experience with DUI cases: When you have the means to hire a private attorney, you also have the freedom to choose an attorney with specific experience in cases like yours. This means your DUI attorney will be someone who spends a significant amount of time focused on learning the intricate details of how to fight successfully. While may public defenders handle DUI cases regularly, they may not have experience with specific circumstances, details and changes in laws that can make or break a case. Ongoing education and awareness of even minor changes to relevant law and courtroom experience is particularly helpful in a state like Arizona, where DUI laws are complicated and penalties are stiff. There is a reason that many firms advertise Criminal and DUI defense. DUI is such a nuanced and technical subsect of criminal defense that it is often thought of as a different type of case.
● Overworked and underpaid – Through no fault of their own, public defenders are typically paid for their work in a couple of different ways – neither of which seem conducive to giving them the time and pay that allows them to provide 100 percent effective effort for every case. This is because they are either private attorneys who offer their services as a public defender for a capped fee, meaning that they will only be paid a set, generally small amount for working a case that would otherwise have earned them much more. or because they are employed by a city or county public defender’s office and receive a salary, far lower than what they deserve and are burdened with a case load far in excess of what should be assigned.
If you are facing a DUI, it is extremely important to get some level of defense representation. But think twice before deciding that paying little or nothing for a public defender will offer you just as much legal protection as hiring your own counsel. f you are currently facing DUI charges and have further questions regarding the role an experienced DUI attorney could have in your case, feel free to contact our office today.