After an arrest, you might wonder what you're going to do if you cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney. In the United States Supreme Court, there is established case law, Gideon v. Wainwright, which allows the government to provide you with a public defender if you were charged with a serious crime and cannot afford proper representation. This sparked the creation of the Office of the Public Defender which can be found in every county in the United States. If you cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney, your local Office of the Public Defender will appoint one for you.
How can I qualify for free representation?
To qualify for the Office of the Public Defender to appoint an attorney in Palm Beach County, you must fill out an application on your next court date or submit an application to the Palm Beach County Clerk's Office. While the representation may be "free", the law still requires you to pay a $50 fee for the appointment of a public defender. If this fee is not paid, it will be assessed at the conclusion of the case. Additional fees can be added on if you are also found guilty.
What's the difference between a public defender and a lawyer?
Advantages of a public defender
A public defender is free and for those who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer. Having a public defender appointed to you can save you thousands of dollars.
Disadvantages of hiring a public defender
Public defenders are government employees while private lawyers are not. They are paid much less than private lawyers and often have large caseloads. Public defenders are also often considered to be overworked and underpaid as they are appointed to multiple clients at once not allowing for proper one-on-one communication. While the representation may be free, the representation may not be of quality.
Advantages of a private lawyer
Private lawyers tend to have much smaller caseloads compared to a public defender. Smaller caseloads allow for proper one-on-one time with their clients which can normally end in a better result. If a private lawyer can spend more time with one client, they can be more likely to find greater weaknesses in the case which can favor the one accused.
Disadvantages of a private lawyer
The only disadvantage of hiring a private lawyer is having to pay for their services. If the case is serious enough, the price of an experienced criminal defense attorney far outweighs any disadvantages as your life can depend on the outcome of the case.
Do criminal defense attorneys offer a payment plan?
While hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is better in most cases than being appointed a public defender, many attorneys offer payment plans for their clients. At The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky, we pride ourselves on having good communication with our clients. In most criminal defense cases, a flat rate is charged which can be broken down into monthly payments making proper criminal defense more affordable. To learn how you to see if you qualify for monthly payments, click here to contact us.
If you have any questions, call us today at (561) 671-5995 to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can also download our free books, 'Top 5 Things Most Criminal Defense Attorneys Don’t Want You to Know' and 'My Loved One Has Been Arrested: What’s Next?'