The justice system in the United States can often be very complex, and to protect your rights, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Defendants who have the financial resources tend to go for a private criminal defense attorney, while for those who cannot afford one, the court appoints a legal representative for them. Only 2% of criminal defendants choose to represent themselves.
Should You Pay For A Private Criminal Defense Attorney?
The Court-provided attorneys are either on a government salary or local attorneys chosen from a panel. But do they provide you with the same legal representation as a private criminal defense attorney?
There is a common belief among defendants that a private criminal defense attorney is superior to an overly burdened court-appointed attorney. You may be inclined to believe that notion. However, it is not true.
There have been a couple of studies conducted that examine the outcomes of private and court-appointed attorneys. In most of these studies, the data points to the fact that there is no difference between the results for the defendants.
For example, one of the many studies conducted revealed that the conviction rates and sentencing for private and court-appointed attorneys were almost similar. However, the local attorneys chosen from the panel fared worse when compared to the two.
There is also the issue of the reliability of statistical evidence due to many different factors. For example, those with a private attorney often don’t have a criminal background or have a short criminal record. But those who can not afford a private attorney are twice more likely to be repeat offenders.
Although statistics are there to suggest that there is not much of a significant difference between a private and a public attorney, what is not clear is whether private attorneys can negotiate a better deal for their defendant than a court-appointed lawyer.
In the end, it is important to note that regardless of whether an attorney is private, from a local panel, or court-appointed, it is the experience, skills, and commitment that matters in providing the best legal representation.
Are You Better Off Representing Yourself?
You can ask any attorney whether self-representation is a great idea for a criminal case, and all of them will let you know that it is best to hire a professional attorney. This is because criminal cases are complex and you need all the experience you can get to handle the case in court.
Only 2% of the defendants choose to represent themselves, but that decision lies with the judge and not the defendant. A judge will determine the defendant’s competency, and if the defendant is unable to provide a competent defense, the judge will not allow the defendant to represent themselves, even if they refuse to accept the services of a public attorney.
A judge will consider the serious nature of the crime, the defendant’s ability to communicate, the defendant’s education, whether the defendant understands the proceedings, and many other factors before allowing or refusing a defendant’s wish for self-representation.
If you’re facing criminal charges, it is best to reach out to an experienced attorney and discuss your case with them rather than consider self-representation.