If you’ve ever heard someone being read their Miranda Rights, you should be familiar with this phrase:
You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
That might have left you wondering why someone would pay for an attorney when they could have one for free. The truth is, it’s not that simple. Court appointed attorneys are reserved for those in financial need. In order to receive a court appointed attorney, you must prove that you are unable to hire one yourself.
If you are able to do so, then you will be assigned an attorney. Depending on the state (and even county) you live in, a court appointed attorney could be a public defender or assigned counsel. What’s the difference? Let’s take a look.
What is a Public Defender?
A public defender is a defense attorney that works for a government funded agency called a public defender’s office. Due to the nature of their position, they are often very experienced in the courtroom. Additionally, they have the same education and training as any other attorney.
However, they also tend to be heavily overworked, resulting in them splitting their attention between a vast number of cases at any given time. Combined with a salary that’s lower than most private attorneys, they can sometimes be limited in the energy they can put towards your case.
Also, due to a limit on funding, they might not be able to utilize additional resources such as private investigators to establish more evidence.
What is Assigned Counsel?
Assigned counsel serves a very similar role to public defenders. These attorneys, however, work for a private practice, taking cases outside of what they are assigned by the court. While they charge their regular clients for legal assistance, assigned counsel work is performed for no-charge to the defendant.
Any attorney that is eligible for assigned counsel has gone through an application process, so you can trust that they are a capable and reputable attorney. However, the attorney you’re given is one that has been chosen by the court, not you.
Why Should You Choose Your Own Attorney?
Relying on a court appointed attorney can ultimately become a game of chance. It is the court’s decision who will represent you. You don’t get to choose between a list of public defenders and assigned counsel members. The decision is taken out of your hands. Whether it ends up being a public defender or assigned counsel, you may not like who you end up with.
If you have a problem with your appointed attorney, you can try to ask for a new one, but it’s up to the judge to determine the validity of your request.
Having a healthy relationship with your attorney that’s built on trust is critical to your court proceedings. You need to know that your attorney is there for you, and that they have your best interests at heart with every decision they make.
At Michael T. Edwards, we provide a range of legal services that you can trust in. Our process starts with a free legal consultation so you can make an informed decision without having to make a monetary commitment. We understand that every case is unique, and our staff is available as you need us.
Even if you don’t think you can afford an attorney, it’s worth having a meeting first to determine if that’s actually the case. It could make a big difference in the final verdict.
For an attorney in Springfield, Ohio, contact us today!