A public defender can be defined as a criminal defense attorney working for the government and paid by the government. This means that they offer free legal representation to the defendant who is facing criminal charges, which are punishable by jail time. The following are some common questions asked by public defenders:
Should I pay a public defender?
No, you should not pay. The judge will determine whether you qualify to get public defense before one is appointed. If you do not qualify, then you should seek private representation. Also, if you can pay, then you will be denied public defense assistance.
Are they qualified as regular criminal lawyers?
No, both the private criminal lawyers and public defenders are equally qualified as far as education certifications, licensing, and requirements are concerned. The major difference, in this case, is the experience and skills of every person.
Am I free to hire a private lawyer?
Yes. Even public defenders are qualified, this does not mean they will offer a most promising alternative for defense. Since they work for the government, they have a tight schedule as they are loaded with several cases. Thus, they have a limited amount of time they can spend on your case. You can hire a private attorney who can offer personalized representation. It does not matter whether you are charged with minor cases such as shoplifting or serious cases such as manslaughter; you should go for private counsel, no matter the cost. After all, you cannot put a cost on freedom.
Can my case be rejected by a public defense attorney?
If the judge determines that you are indigent and cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, it will be illegal and unethical to reject your case. In fact, they will be violating your constitutional rights. However, a case can be handed from one lawyer to another. If you qualify for free representation, you must get it.
Can I change a lawyer?
If the lawyer assigned to your case fails to meet your expectations, then you can request a change. However, you will have to prove to the lawyer that the current one is violating your right to free, adequate representation. If you fail to prove, then you cannot be allowed to change. Inadequate representation includes situations such as failure to meet deadlines, missing appointments, not being updated on court dates, and ignoring vital evidence.