If you have been charged with a crime in Virginia, you will have a better outcome in your case if you are represented by a lawyer. This is true whether you are facing a misdemeanor offense, such as reckless driving, or a much more serious felony, such as murder or rape.
However, you may have to decide whether to use a public defender or retain a private attorney. Here are the reasons why you should choose to hire your own lawyer if you can afford to.
Pros and Cons of a Hiring a Public Defender
A public defender is a government employee appointed by the court to represent defendants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to defend them. The benefit of having a public defender handle your case is that you would not have to pay them any attorney fees, which could be expensive.
Public defenders have experience handling many criminal cases, which would be another benefit to you. However, there are two drawbacks you need to consider:
- Large caseloads. Public defenders have large caseloads, meaning they would have less time to devote to defending you.
- Overworked. Public defenders are often underpaid and overworked. Given this and the large number of clients they represent, they may not raise all your defenses and would more likely recommend that you accept a plea bargain in your case—even if you have strong defenses.
Five Benefits of Hiring Your Own Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you can afford to retain your own attorney, it is in your best interests to do so. While it is true that it could be expensive to hire one, it is the best option given the harsh punishments and long-term consequences you could face if you are convicted. Here are five benefits of hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer:
- Your choice. You will be able to choose the lawyer you believe has the knowledge and commitment to aggressively defend you. If you go with a public defender, the judge will appoint someone to represent you.
- More time. A private lawyer will have a smaller caseload than a public defender. They will be able to devote more time to building a strong defense strategy for you.
- More resources. Private lawyers have staff that will help them in your case. They will also have a network of expert witnesses, private investigators, and other resources to help your defense.
- Better communication. It may be much easier for you to communicate with a lawyer you hire when you have questions or need an update—rather than a public defender, who spends a large portion of their time in court.
- Better outcome. It is more likely that the charges against you would be dismissed or reduced to a much less serious offense if you hire your own lawyer because they will have more time and resources to devote to your case.
Have you been charged with reckless driving, DUI, or another criminal offense in Virginia? Call our Manassas office to schedule a free consultation with our skilled criminal defense legal team to learn how we can defend you and about our track record of defending other clients facing similar charges.