The above phrase is right there in each and every Miranda Warning recited to those about to arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)—or for anything else. If you cannot afford private legal representation, you still have the right to be represented by professional legal counsel. To find out more about this right and how it could affect a DUI arrest, read on.
The Role of the Public Defender
The government ensures everyone is duly represented by paying the salary of public defenders. This benefit is only for those who can show they cannot afford a private attorney. Those who ask for a public defender must fill out a financial application and swear, under oath, that they cannot afford to pay for a private attorney. What you pay is determined by your income and you might be charged a partial fee if you have enough income to pay it.
You won't have any say in the matter as to which public defender you get—an attorney is chosen for you. Often, public defenders are extremely understaffed and overtaxed in trying to provide legal services to those in need. Sometimes, private attorneys work as public defenders on a contract basis and some of them work directly for the public defender's office.
Trial or Plea Bargain?
Nearly all cases similar to a DUI are resolved using a plea bargain. This means you plead guilty to a crime and are sentenced without a trial. Everything happens faster with plea bargains and it's up to you and your attorney to determine whether or not to accept the deal. You should not be pressured one way or another but some public defenders may encourage you to take the deal so they don't have to deal with the time constraints of a trial. It should be noted that even if you have a private attorney, there is a good chance you will be offered a plea bargain, particularly if you are a first-time offender.
Private vs. Public
If you qualify on an indigent status for a public defender, you don't necessarily have to go with that option. You are free to hire who you want and you can change lawyers when necessary. For example, you can start with a public defender and then move to a private lawyer if you want. The main difference between public and private attorneys is their area of expertise. Most private lawyers are good at certain areas of the law and many of them work almost exclusively with DUI cases. Public defenders, however, usually work with everything from murder and rape to burglary and DUI's. If you can afford it, you'll be more likely to receive personalized advice and support than with a public defender. Speak to a DUI lawyer about representation today.
You walk into your favorite grocery store and right away, you slip and fall only to sprain your ankle. You can't perform your job because it requires standing on your feet all day, which means that you can't make any money to support your family while your ankle heals. There was no warning that the floors were wet after being cleaned in the store – so what do you do? It's probably a good idea to think about filing a personal injury lawsuit. Of course, anyone with experience with a personal injury case will tell you just how important it is to work with an attorney throughout the process. I'd like to share insight I've learned through three personal injury cases that I myself have had to go through in the past. I think the information on this website can help people like you, who need some personal injury guidance.