You are charged with a felony and under the sentencing guidelines there is a possibility of jail time. If this is a first offense you may be eligible for ARD a special program that ultimately lead to the charges being dismissed. If you have a drug problem there may also be alternatives available . I am concerned about the delay in charging you and would like to investigate that. You need to secure an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Most of criminal defense attorneys do provide a brief consultation pro bono on the criminal issues. Find a good local counsel who practices in the area of the criminal law in that county.
In terms of starting with a PD, you may do that, and once you amass a required amount you may retain a private attorney. Yet, be mindful that it is crucial to be represented by a counsel who is familiar with your case and vigorously defends your interests.
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There are so many issues in this two sentence question, and a variety of criminal charges that could be filed. The delay in charging could be because it is part of a larger investigation. It is not stated whether you have a prior record or not.
Your question asks if you can start with a public defender and the answer is yes. Establish a good relationship with your attorney to make sure you understand the proof that the Commonwealth has against you, the range of sentences you are facing, and whether you are being offered anything. If this is a first offense, try to avoid a conviction through a diversionary program.
You can always hire a private attorney (unless it is very late in the game), but most public defenders know their system and the players as well as a private attorney. If you can get a free private consultation, take advantage of that, even if you use a public defender. Good luck!
While you are certainly permitted to do this, I would not recommend it. In order for your private attorney to be adequately prepared to defend you in court, you need to give him enough time to prepare. Most judges will not give the private attorney extra time if the case has already been going on for a period of time while you are represented by the PD. I would encourage you to meet with a criminal defense attorney and maybe he can work out some type of payment arrangement with you.
The above is a general answer but should not be considered specific legal advice for your case. If you would like to discuss the particular problem you are facing, please contact Geoffrey Hood, Esquire at (215) 639-4400
This needs to be investigated as the commonwealth may have some Rule 600 problems unless there has been an outstanding warrant for your arrest since 2011. It always better to stick with one lawyer as your first attorney will get the opportunity to cross examine commonwealth witnesses. This is not only the attorney's first chance to gain info for your case but also gauge the witnesses credibility for trial.
John M. Walsh, Esquire
Driscoll & Walsh
2101 Pine St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-758-9200 Ext. 101