A lot of Texans who are charged with criminal offenses qualify for the assistance of a public defender. This offers accused individuals with a low-cost or no-cost way of defending themselves in court. While the financial incentive may be tempting to many, you should be cautious before agreeing to let a public defender represent you in your criminal case. While there are certainly a number of competent public defenders out there, many of them are put in a position that makes it impossible for them to provide you with the best criminal defense possible under the circumstances. Here are just a few of the risks associated with being represented by a public defender:
- Public defenders have high caseloads: It’s no secret that public defenders often have more cases than they can handle effectively. This means that they’re left to manage their caseload rather than their individual cases. As a result, far too many cases are given less than adequate attention, which means that key components of your case could be overlooked and go unaddressed simply for expediency’s sake.
- Public defenders don’t have much time to communicate: Because they’re so busy managing their caseload, public defenders often don’t have the ability to devote a lot of time to giving their clients personal attention. This means that you might not hear from your public defender for a significant period of time, which could leave you in the dark as to the progress of your case. This lack of communication also means that you may not be able to play an active role in developing your criminal defense.
- Public defenders often push cases through: What does this mean? It means that, with what is oftentimes a focus on clearing cases, many public defenders quickly seek to settle cases. This means that your public defender may guide you toward a plea agreement, even if it isn’t your only or your best option. This can put your freedom and your future at risk.
- Public defenders lack resources: Public defender offices are oftentimes under-funded, which means that they don’t have the resources needed to really dig into your case to gather and generate the evidence you need to build a strong criminal defense. For example, most public defenders don’t have access to a personal investigator who can scrutinize every aspect of your case to find exculpatory evidence and draw law enforcement’s investigatory techniques into question.
- Many public defenders are inexperienced: There are a lot of strong and experienced public defenders out there, but there are also a lot of public defenders who are fresh out of law school. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that you may be stuck with an attorney who is less equipped to make proper objections on your behalf, which could affect your ability to not only win your case, but also preserve your rights on appeal should you be convicted at the trial court level. Remember, too, that when you’re assigned a public defender, you don’t have a say on which attorney is assigned to you. So, you very well may end up with one of these attorneys.
Have experience and aggression on your side
There’s simply too much at stake in your criminal case to leave your defense in the hands of someone other than the best advocate for you and your case. That’s why it behooves you to carefully research your options when it comes to criminal defense representation. Only by doing your homework can you pick the criminal defense attorney that is right for you.