Being charged with a criminal offense can make for difficult and frightening times. When there’s a lot on the line, you need to be sure you understand and know how to exercise your legal rights, especially your right to legal representation. No matter the charges, you have the right to have an attorney by your side as your challenge the government’s case against you and fight to defend your freedom and future. Your right to a lawyer is one of the most important rights you have.
In many criminal cases, defendants have the opportunity to work with a public defender, a government employee who represents individuals charged with crimes. While it may seem nice that a government-provided lawyer will be there to help you along the way, the truth is that public defenders generally lack the time, resources, and experience to provide the type of representation needed to address your case and protect your future. In fact, public defender offices throughout the nation have been criticized for falling short in being able to effectively level the playing field for those who stand accused of crimes.
At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our Polk County criminal defense lawyers have represented numerous clients throughout the region who faced allegations involving a range of crimes. Often, these clients, and others who call our firm, express their interest in possibly working with a public defender. When they do, we typically explain why that’s not always the best idea, and why our firm can provide far more for their case than any public defender can.
When the stakes are high, you want to place your trust in proven and dedicated defense lawyers, not public defenders. Here’s why:
- Time & Attention – It is no secret that our criminal justice system is severely overburdened, and the impact of this burden can be felt through all aspects of the process, from law enforcement to prosecution to our jail and prisons; and for public defenders as well. Public defenders have massive caseloads filled with defendants, and they simply lack the time needed to fully invest in any one case and defense. Many counties in Florida have tens of thousands of cases each year (nearly 80,000 in Miami-Dade alone). In addition, a study conducted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers using data from Louisiana discovered that public defenders were so overburdened by their caseloads that they devoted just 7 minutes on average when preparing for a defendant’s court appearance. Limited time also means limited attention, and defendants who work with public defenders often find that a PD isn’t as readily available to their needs as a private attorney would be.
- Resources – In addition to large caseloads, public defender offices are notoriously underfunded. This means that public defenders have limited resources and limited options when it comes to fully investigating, researching, and preparing cases. Based on research collected in 2009, funding for public defenders pales in comparison to funding for the prosecution (equating to only 53 cents for public defenders for every dollar spent for the prosecution). When defendants work with a public defender, the lack of resources alone can tip cases in the prosecutor’s favor.
- Experience – Underfunding has an impact beyond limiting the resources public defenders have available to work on a defendant’s case, it also limits the type of attorneys public defender offices can hire. With limited funding comes limited salaries, which is why public defender offices are typically staffed by young and new attorneys, many of whom may be fresh out of law school and generally inexperienced in handling defense cases and in handling many different types of charges. Whether you have a misdemeanor case or are facing serious felony charges, working with a public defender could mean that your representation simply doesn’t have much, if any, experience handling cases involving the types of charges you face.
The impact of a broken criminal justice system is clearly apparent when you consider the lack of time, resources, and experience common with public defenders. As such, it becomes important to look at how private defense lawyers offer numerous benefits over public defenders. At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our criminal defense team is led by Partner David R. Carmichael, a Board Certified Criminal Trial Specialist by The Florida Bar – a distinction held by less than 3% of all lawyers in the state. His board certification speaks volumes about his expertise in criminal law, something he leverages for the advantage of clients who face serious charges and penalties. He is also a former prosecutor and law enforcement instructor, a background that gives him unique insight into the other side.
In addition to Attorney Carmichael’s experience and specialization, our firm has decades of combined experience, the resources required of tough criminal cases, and the determination to use them effectively for our clients. Our entire legal team understands that criminal charges can put your future on the line, and we make it a priority to dedicate the time needed to conduct full investigations and prepare cases thoroughly. We also emphasis personalized attention and tailored legal strategies that are designed to secure the best possible resolution. When clients have questions or concerns, they have easy access to our team.
With your future at stake, working with the right attorney can make all the difference. Learn how our criminal defense team at Boswell & Dunlap LLP may be able to make the difference for you when you contact us for a FREE consultation.