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    The Road to Tyranny by Don Jans

    Can You Beat A DUI With A Public Defender?

    Photo Credit Simi Valley Police Department

    A local public defender is assigned to represent the legal interests of any individual in court that can’t afford to hire legal representation. However, public defenders get a bad reputation, and although some of it is warranted, most of it is not.

    Public defenders are an affordable alternative for legal assistance to those who have been charged with a DUI. Public defenders are capable attorneys, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them to protect you from a DUI charge. A DUI attorney can be of service when you require a legal team specializing in criminal defense.

    The Public Defender’s Role

    A public defender is a licensed attorney. Since they are free public attorneys, they get lots of experience seeing all types of cases. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, the consequences may be harsh, and retaining free legal assistance is better than none at all. 

    If a private attorney is an unaffordable option, then a public defender can represent you in court. However, the average DUI attorney is not that expensive for a first DUI or DWI offense; nonetheless, using a public defender increases the odds of winning your case or getting a dismissal.

    Electing to go with a public defender does forfeit your right to choose which public attorney represents your DUI case. The public defender assigned to represent your DUI case is usually the lawyer assigned to the courtroom where the case will be tried. In large cities, different public defenders may be assigned at various stages of a DUI case.

    Public Defender Disadvantages

    Many people have misgivings about using a public defender for DUI offenses. Using a public defender is better than defending yourself but has some drawbacks. You don’t get to choose which public defender represents you, and there’s no guarantee that the attorney that starts your case finishes it. 

    Many public defenders carry heavy caseloads that compromise their ability to give each case the attention it deserves. A public defense attorney is likely to advise you to enter a guilty plea and ensure your constitutional rights are protected. 

    Since public defenders have overwhelming caseloads and often do their jobs without the sufficient resources available to approach a DUI case, fighting for a full dismissal may seem impossible with a public defender.

    Every DUI hearing is unique. There is always a chance that a court-appointed lawyer can succeed in getting your charges dropped. However, hiring a private DUI attorney, although it costs more, could be cheaper than DUI conviction repercussions. 

    DUI Convictions

    Pleading guilty to a drunk or drugged driving offense means that the DUI conviction will be on your criminal record for life.  A DUI can be cleared after several years in some states if you get it expunged.  

    Private DUI attorneys are typically invested in their clients and have experience achieving favorable outcomes. Hiring the right lawyer will cost money, but being convicted of a DUI could be worse. 

    Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge, consulting with a public defender or private DUI attorney is always a savvy move.  Representing yourself in court without proper guidance could lead to a DUI violation. Pleading guilty will drastically impact your life. 



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    C E Voigtsberger
    C E Voigtsberger
    1 year ago

    Well, how about a voice from another direction. As a court reporter I worked in California courts from the days when attorneys were appointed from the general lawyer population in the county. Some lawyers, having recently passed the bar exam and needing work would go to the presiding judge and volunteer to take court appointments for indigent defendants. This was in the days before civil servant (how I love that term) attorneys worked full time for a public defenders office. In those days you would have wished you had a public defender. Those appointed attorneys represented every kind of case from a DUI to first degree murder. Can you imagine being defended on a first degree murder charge by an attorney who passed the bar exam last month?

    Even in those halcyon days, being represented in court by a privately retained attorney meant the expenditure of significant sums of money. As with so many licensed fields, you might hire an attorney who had never handled a defense for the crime with which you were charged and pay him a significant sum of money to further his education.

    I was working in Ventura County when the VC Public Defenders Office was first instituted under Dick Irwin. He only hired experienced attorneys for his team. Yeah, there were some lame hires but by and large, if you were represented by an attorney from the VCPDO, you were well represented. A few were really outstanding attorneys and with the whole field of attorneys to pick from, if accused of a crime, I would have preferred to have one of those outstanding attorneys defend me. None that I knew sloughed off a case. Every one of them gave the best advice he had. There is more to winning a case than presenting evidence to the jury. Being current on the most recent appellate court rulings is as important as presenting evidence. Being aware of changes in sentencing procedure is also important in deciding whether to accept a plea or to reject it. Knowing the personal foibles of your opposing counsel from the DA’s office is an important tactic in handling any criminal case. There are many subtle nuances in a trial that go to achieving a satisfactory result. An attorney who spends just about every working day of his life working in criminal court is way ahead of the private attorney who only handles an occasional DUI and has never represented a client charged with a serious felony. Your private attorney, unlike on TV doesn’t just represent you. He has dozens if not hundreds of active cases that he is handling at the same time he is handling your case. You are not going to get his undivided attention.

    The only place where a defense attorney handled one case at a time that I know of was when I worked at the Twelfth Naval District Legal Office. There a defense counsel had the luxury of handling only one criminal case at a time. The trial counsel the navy term for prosecuting attorney also only handled one case at a time. I had occasion to report a couple of trials where the hapless defendant believing that a navy lawyer wouldn’t defend him hired a private attorney who usually got blown out of court because he was juggling many cases at a time and didn’t have the time to prep as did the trial counsel. it was embarrassing watching the civilian attorney bumble his way through the trial.
    Remember, a win might mean that you wind up with only eight years in prison as opposed to what the DA wanted and which the probation department recommended which was 30 to life.

    Yes, there are non-public defenders who specialize in criminal defense work but remember, you are not their only case. They might have been in the public defender’s office or the district attorney’s office and left for private practice. Usually there was some personality problem that caused them to leave. Either it was because they didn’t agree with the politics of the office or, sometimes, they just weren’t skillful enough for the demands of the office. Perhaps they wanted the freedom to manage the office to their particular likes and didn’t like taking orders on how to proceed on a case from a superior whose knowledge of the law was not as good as the man in the trenches. Sometimes a the DA will intervene in a case and order the deputy to charge a higher crime than the one the deputy feels is the correct crime for the facts of the case. It is called overcharging and many DAs, being political animals want the publicity of a first degree murder charge where the facts of the case clearly show that a lesser charge is called for — or no charges. We had a clear example of that this past summer where the DA used a tactic called “throw enough mud on the wall in the hope that some of it will stick” He also clearly violated the canon of ethics and the rulings of the supreme court in the presentation of evidence and argument to the jury. Some who do not know better were outraged that the presiding judge chided the DA for violations of those rules. I felt the judge should have held him in contempt of court and referred him to whatever presiding body in that state has jurisdiction over misconduct in court. I could well see a deputy in that DA’s office deciding he didn’t want to work for an organization with such blatant disregard for the rules of jurisprudence and quit his job to go into private practice.

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