My friend is being charged with child molestation (from 2008-2010). The defendant was 16 in 2008 and 18 yrs old in 2010. Two young girls are accusing him....one was around 6 or 7 and is now 10 or 11....the other was around 8 or 9 and is now 12 yrs old. The youngest one is accusing him of rape (5 times) and the other of dry humping her (5 times as well). His bail amount is $4,000,000! The public defender he was appointed seems like a nice lady but my friend, the defendant, doesn't get a good vibe from her. He feels like she's not working for him. My mother got the same vibe and I don't know if to read into it. She didn't show up to his preliminary hearing yesterday because she was with another defendant....I think in trial. We would like to hire a private defender...is it a good move?
It is always a good idea to do that if you are unhappy or unsure of your present counsel. However, postponing preliminary hearings is a very common practice. Sometimes, it is not a good idea to move quickly in a case. The issue with the PD is they have way too high of a case load and really don't have the time to give the case the attention it deserves.
You should definitely consult with other attorney's and see what if anything they can do.
I give the same answer to this question every time I get asked. Law is like medicine. You are dealing with professionals who have special training and education. Some are better trained and more educated than others. If I get sick, I know that I can go to the free clinic and see a doctor... but I don't. There are plenty of good competent doctors at the free clinic, but I prefer not to take my chances if u can hire a doctor with a good reputation who I know will help me as much as possible.
You might also consider what is called an "alternative public defender". Their link to their website appears below. According to their website: "To provide high quality and caring legal representation to indigent persons charged with a crime that the Public Defender is unable to represent (due to a conflict of interest or unavailability) in court proceedings in the Superior Courts and in appeals to higher courts."
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Criminal Defense Attorney
The charges being made are extremely serious. If convicted, your friend will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. I agree you should hire a private lawyer. Whom do you hire is the question. Not just any private lawyer will do. Hire a trial attorney that has experience doing actual trials in criminal cases. Ask how many trials the attorney has done in front of juries. Ask for the name of the defendant or the case number and you could actually verify their expertise. Ask for the result in those cases that went to trial. This should give you an indication of their trial expertise. Check with the state bar website to see whether they have been disciplined and for what. Then you would be in a better position to decide who will represent your friend.
OSCAR E. TOSCANO
I am licensed to practice in the state of California. I handle cases from Sacramento to San Diego. I have handled cases in Federal District courts from Alaska and throughout the United States. My comments and opinions are based on California law and are based on the limited information provided in the question. Legal questions are usually fact specific and a few facts can and often does change the opinion I would give. It is better to consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction (your geographic area) and provide specific details regarding your case in private. You would get more specific advice. The contents of the conversations with your attorney are confidential and are protected from being revealed. The statements made in this public forum (AVVO) are not confidential and could be revealed. Therefore, you must be very careful in the details you provide. Do not disclose information that could be a crime or that could be used in order to prove a crime was committed. If you are in California and want to clarify any of my answers, feel free to contact me.
Criminal Defense Attorney
I always tell clients who are dissatisfied with their public defenders to trust their instincts. The sad fact of the matter is that while many public defenders are excellent attorneys, they simply lack the time that most good private lawyers have to dedicate to your case. A child molestation conviction in this case will change your friend's life forever. He, his friends and his family owe it to themselves to interview some private attorneys and see who they feel the most comfortable with. It is best to hire an attorney who has experience in handling (and going to trial on) these types of cases. But mostly, your friend needs to feel comfortable with his choice of counsel so that he will know that he did all he could to clear himself of these devastating charges.
Best wishes and good luck!
Hiring a private attorney to handle a case as serious as this is almost always a good idea, unless you are lucky enough to get a PD assigned that truly cares about the client AND has a caseload that allows them to devote the proper level attention to the case. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound as if your particular PD meets either of these requirements.
The most important factor you need to keep in mind in choosing a private defense attorney is knowing that there are literally THOUSANDS of attorneys out there who will take your money, but have no business handling such a serious case. Your best bet is to hire an attorney who can show you a track record of handling serious felony cases, but don't just take their word for it, ASK FOR DETAILS!!! Many times, your best bet is to hire a former Public Defender who is now in private practice after 10+ years with the PD. These types of attorneys have the experience to handle serious cases and now that they are in private practice, they have the time necessary to devote to each individual client.
Joel E. Lueck
Attorney at Law