Public defenders are criminal defense attorneys. If you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, you can ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you. If you already have a conviction(s) then you should consult a local attorney to discuss the details of the situation. Do not delay, since appeal times are very limited.
We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.
A public defender is a lawyer for people who can't afford to hire a lawyer. You don't get to pick one or the other. You get a public defender only because you simply cannot afford a lawyer. You should consult with a local, experienced criminal defense attorney to determine what can happen because of these charges and how it will impact your immigration status as am international graduate student.
Public defenders are lawyers and can certainly represent you. The issue with them is the fact that they have many more cases than a private lawyer. If you want service and a lawyer to spend time with you and have the adequate time tonprepare your case you should hire a private lawyer. The question for you is how much you value your future.
Please be advised that answering your questions does not establish an attorney-client relationship with myself or my firm. We would be more than happy to set up a free consultation if you call us at 407-228-3838 and specifically mention AVVO or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put AVVO in the subject line.
It is difficult to say who is best for you. The truth is that public defenders are lawyers and many of them are very good lawyers. The problem most people encounter is that public defenders have such big caseloads they often do not have a lot of time to give their individual clients. If you want someone to give you personal attention, to explain things to you in detail, and to have the time to spend on your case, then you should hire a private attorney. Of course, just like public defenders when it comes to private attorneys there are good ones and there are bad ones.
Ask your friends if they've ever hired an attorney and who they would recommend. If they don't know any, then look up some attorneys here on avvo.com and see what people have had to say about them.
If you've never been in trouble then you are not looking at anything serious. Jail, while possible, is unlikely in your case. Nonetheless, these are crimes and you should take them seriously.
Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or would like to discuss your case in more detail.
This is not to be considered legal advice nor does an attorney-client relationship exist.
The reality is that under the Pandilla v. Kentucky decision any criminal defense attorney has to be weary of the immigration consequences of any criminal adjudication. You have to qualify for the services of the public defender and you will be screened at the court if you appear and ask for the help of a PD. I have been both a PD and a private criminal attorney and can remember when Florida had the PD cycle for private attorneys to assist.
Most PD offices throughout Florida have attorneys who they consult with to advise on the immigration consequences of criminal adjudications. (I am one of them)
Good luck - remember that the any criminal adjudication including diversion programs and no contest pleas can be considered guilty adjudications for purposes of immigration law.
Legal disclaimer: The statement above is provided by CC Abbott is based on general assistance and not intended to be a legal opinion because not all the facts are provided. The person requesting information and all others reading the answer should retain an attorney who is permitted by the state bar within the jurisdiction who can examine the complete facts and provide a legal opinion on your case. All information provided in the above answer and other information provided by CC Abbott does not create an attorney/client relationship within any state of Federal law.
The charges, if convicted, are a violation of the terms of your visa. Whether you qualify for a PD or you go with a private attorney, you need to make sure your criminal attorney understands immigration law and the consequences in your specific case. Your best option is an attorney who practices both criminal and immigration law and can protect your best immigration interests in the criminal court.