So, you have taken the public defender route for your DUI defense attorney. Congratulations, you are one step better off than representing yourself. However, do you know how the public defender situation works in the court system? You don’t get to pick your defense attorney, the court assigns one to you – after determining your eligibility.
First, let’s get rid of the stereotypes of public defenders. They are real attorneys and are bound by legal and ethical rules to do their best to represent your best interest.
The name of the game is trust, and you need to trust they know more about the court system than you do. Public defenders have the advantages of being at the courthouse nearly every day, sometimes working through 20 to 30 cases in a day! This provides a public defender with a great understanding of how the local court handles DUI cases, and how the judge and prosecutors work. Remember, a DUI/DWI can have big consequences, and having an attorney to help you is your best bet.
Remember, the court assigns public defenders to your case. A judge will interview you and determine your eligibility to receive a public defender. Once you are granted and assigned a public defender, your defense attorney will meet with you to review your case. This is the time to have your questions ready for the attorney.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PUBLIC DEFENDER
You may only have 5 minutes in the hallway to talk to your public defender, so here are four questions that can help you and your defense attorney.
- What evidence does the prosecution have against me?
It is important for you to have a clear understanding of what evidence is being used against you. This understanding will help you understand why your attorney is recommending certain options over other options.
- What is a typical sentence for these types of charges?
The charges against you can change from the start of your case to the end of your case. New charges could be added, or others reduced. It is important for you to understand what the “original charges” are going to get you if you accept them as is.
- Are there any plea deals offered, and can we make a better plea deal?
Frequently first-time offenders are offered a plea deal by the prosecution. It is important that you weigh the plea deal with the option to take your case to court. This question leads to our fourth question.
- Find out what options you have and ask the attorney for advice.
The public defender may have extensive knowledge about DUI cases in the local court. Your defense attorney should be able to provide you with all your options and give you solid advice so that you can make a decision.
- BONUS QUESTION: Are you comfortable representing a person like me, accused of the crime with which I am charged?
This question will help you get a feel for how well the public defender will work with you. Make sure you ask this question in the politest way you can. You might not get a choice with the public defender assigned to you, but remember, attorneys are ethically required to represent your best interests.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS
It is important for you to understand your situation. You can only get this understanding by asking questions, and who better to ask than someone with experience.
If you can’t afford a private defense attorney for your DUI, then a public defender is a better option than representing yourself.
Need help? We are here. We can help you find the right attorney, financial provider, insurance, counseling and more. Just visit myduisolution.com. There are many resources dedicated to helping you stay safe and recover. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, locate an AA Group here.