We’ve all seen in TV shows and movies that one of the first things people do when they are taken into custody is ask to see a lawyer. As quoted in your Miranda Rights, you have the right to pick an attorney, and if you do not choose one yourself, the Court will appoint one to you.
Of course, it is in your best interest to choose your own lawyer – one who has your best interests at heart. Public defenders mean well, but most are so overworked that they are not nearly as effective as a private criminal defense lawyer can be.
Not quite convinced? If you’re on the fence about hiring your own defense attorney, here are a few reasons to explain why going this route really is your best bet.
Provide a knowledge base. While court-appointed attorneys are educated and experienced, they may not have the particular experience needed to win your case. In other words, you want someone who has demonstrated success in handling the exact charge that you are facing.
Moreover, if you decide you want to represent yourself, you’re losing out on the years of schooling and experience that only a qualified attorney can bring to your case. Hiring your own criminal defense lawyer will ensure that you are able to understand your charges, negotiate the best possible deal, have your rights protected, and so on.
Expend the time and effort necessary. You’ve been charged with a crime, and you may or may not be guilty. However, that doesn’t mean that you all of a sudden have plenty of time to devote to coming up with a defense strategy – especially since you’re likely not all that familiar with North Carolina criminal law. You may have a job, children, or other responsibilities that require your time. Adding the stress of representing yourself onto your plate is not ideal. And as mentioned above, public defenders are incredibly overworked, often working on many times the recommended number of cases at the same time. Not only will they not be able to give you their full attention – you’ll be lucky if you get something like a quarter of it.
In contrast, a private criminal lawyer is able to take on only as many cases as he or she can handle. By doing this, they are able to more fully devote themselves to your case, uncovering helpful details that might have been missed by someone without the legal knowledge or simple bandwidth to recognize it.
Protect your best interests. The role of every criminal defense lawyer is to protect your rights, but private attorneys have a lot more riding on getting a successful outcome in your case than public defenders. Whereas public defenders are paid a flat salary by the state, private criminal attorneys receive money directly from clients. If they are unable to get you the best possible outcome, it reflects poorly on them and people will be less likely to hire them in the future.
Because of this, a criminal defense lawyer that you seek out personally will be much more active in the case and much more invested in the outcome. A successful outcome for you is a successful outcome for them.
Develop a strategy. After an arrest and a criminal charge, the last thing you’re going to want to think about is how to work a court case. But this is the job of a criminal attorney. When you choose someone with success handling your specific charges, they will bring specific understanding as to how to fight those charges, working hard to get them decreased or even overturned completely. Additionally, they’ll have an in-depth understanding of how the local court system works, and will likely even know how area prosecutors and judges tend to operate. And, of course, a properly trained lawyer will know how best to work with a jury, if that is required in your case, how to interview witnesses, how to present evidence, and so on.
Simply put, there is a craft to representing someone in a criminal case. And when your life is on the line, you want to make sure you get to hand pick the person handling your case so that you are assured of a knowledgeable, passionate criminal lawyer.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.