The constitutions of the United States and the state of Texas provide that if you can’t afford a defense attorney when facing criminal charges, you are entitled to an attorney at no cost to yourself at every stage of a criminal proceeding. Attorneys that are appointed to represent you under those circumstances are referred to as “Public Defenders.”
If you are facing criminal charges and are afforded the opportunity to have lawyer defend you against those charges for free, you may wonder why you should or would choose a private Texas defense attorney to represent you instead. After all, retaining a private defense lawyer will cost you some money, and in serious felony or complex cases that proceed all the way through trial, the attorney’s fees can be significant.
Remember What’s at Stake
But when considering the potential costs of a private defense lawyer, you need to take a long hard look at what’s at stake. Being charged with a criminal offense may result in the loss of your freedom for an extended period of time. Try calculating the dollar value of a year of your life spent incarcerated, away from your family and friends. What is the price of five, 10, or 20 years behind bars, or the stigma of a criminal conviction that can destroy your career, your reputation and your relationships?
Even if fines are all that you may be facing, a criminal conviction and record can have long-term consequences on multiple aspects of your life – your ability to get a job, obtain student loans, or even remain in the country, just to name a few. When you consider all that hangs in the balance, selecting your attorney on the basis of cost alone can be the clearest example of the old adage “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Overworked and Underfunded
This is not to say that public defenders are incompetent or subpar. Most public defenders are committed and competent attorneys who make every effort to obtain a positive result for the clients they are assigned. However, public defenders are often overloaded with cases; they may be working on up to 100 other cases in addition to yours. Underfunding of public defender’s offices not only leads to this difficult burden, it also often leaves public defenders without the resources they need to mount a truly effective defense.
Given this case overload, you may have difficulty speaking with your attorney outside of court settings, and important information that you need to pass along may not reach your attorney. That lack of attention and time means that your defense may not get the attention it needs and deserves. The overwhelming number of cases may also create pressures to resolve cases quickly through plea bargains in situations where taking a matter to trial or taking a more aggressive approach may better suit your situation.
Contrast this with a private Texas criminal defense attorney who has control over how many cases he takes at a given time to ensure that each client can get the attention and care they need and deserve. A good private criminal defense attorney will make himself available whenever you need him, and will have the resources and commitment to make sure you have the best chance of a positive result that allows you to move on with your life. Finally, a truly exceptional defense lawyer who is dedicated to your future will work with you to make your defense as affordable and accessible as possible.
Mark Diaz – Experienced Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer who focuses exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout my career, I have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing I do. I have witnessed firsthand how a criminal charge can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. As a lawyer, I consider it a privilege to help people during this stressful time in their lives. Call me today at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.