One thing is for sure when you are arrested and charged with a crime – especially a serious felony – you don’t want to take chances with your life. You could be facing serious jail time and a conviction that could forever impact you and your family. The word “jail” is far more than just a term defined in a state statute. Jail can take you away from young children, making you miss the best years of their lives. Think about all the things you will miss, the memories you’ll never make. Deciding who you will trust to fight for you when everything is on the line is an incredibly difficult choice.
Many accused individuals struggle to decide whether they should allow a local public defender handle their case or spend the money to hire a private criminal defense lawyer. No one can make that decision for you, but here are some realities you should consider.
Public Defenders are Focused on One Thing Only
We will start with something positive. Public defenders generally do just that – defend the public against criminal charges. They don’t get much say in who they represent, and they don’t do anything else. They focus all their time and energy on criminal defense. So, in general, most public defenders are fine attorneys who do a great job with the resources at their disposal.
Public Defenders Have Limited Resources
Keep in mind that when it comes to public budgets, prosecutors almost always get more funding. It’s pretty tough to be a politician and get reelected if you are advocating to give more money to attorneys to “defend criminals.” For this reason, you will rarely hear a politician arguing for increased spending for public defenders. Sadly, this means most public defenders do not have the manpower, finances, or investigative teams needed to really do the job they want to do for their clients.
A fascinating podcast by Reveal explains some of the consequences of underfunding public defenders nationwide.
Public Defenders Often Have Overwhelming Caseloads
Partly due to the lack of funding and poor staffing and partly due to a systemic connection between poverty and crime, public defenders often find themselves inundated with clients. The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report in 2016, which looked at the unique problems facing another state’s public defender organization. In that report, Missouri’s State Public Defender recalled caseloads that were so burdensome that clients were often forced to choose between asserting their constitutional rights or sitting in jail cells for upwards of a year or more, while they wait their turn for representation.
Although no attorney – private or public – can guarantee a specific outcome, you can definitely tip the scales in your favor. Your freedom, your life, and your entire future are in the balance. Obviously, not everyone can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. However, in most cases doing so offers you the unique ability to pursue swifter and better results than relying on strained public defender services.
If you’ve been charged with a crime in the Low Country, trust David Aylor Law Offices to fight for you. As a former prosecutor and experienced trial lawyer, count on David Aylor to put you first and keep the scales of justice balanced.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.