Too late to hire private criminal defense lawyer?

Asked over 1 year ago - New York, NY

I was arrested back in December for shoplifting approximately $150 of merchandise from a major retail chain. They didn't catch me on camera, but I admitted to everything because I was scared. I signed trespass and civil demand forms, which I now know I shouldn't have.

It is my first offense, so I'm praying for an ACD. However, as a recent college grad who is seeking work, I just don't have the funds to hire a private lawyer. After reading and asking around, I decided that I would use a public defender, but now that I am a week away from my desk appearance, I am freaking out. (I have anxiety issues.) Even though I'm due in court in a week, should I search for a private lawyer and somehow make ends meet? I think I'd rather be in debt than have a criminal record.

Additional information

One thing that concerns me is that the main "con" for public defenders seems not to be their lack of ability but their lack of time. With my court date only a week away, will that now also apply for the hypothetical private attorney?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Eric Edward Rothstein

    Contributor Level 20

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . It is not too late to hire a private lawyer. Private lawyers such as myself carry a much smaller case load so we have more time to devote to the client and their case. I handle cases like yours all the time.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases.... more
  2. Joseph A Lo Piccolo

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . You are correct. Shop around for someone with experience and you feel confident with.


    Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
    Immediate Past President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
    Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
    1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
    Garden City, NY 11530
    516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)
    Jlopiccolo@hbclaw.net

    I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a... more
  3. John L Ponzini

    Contributor Level 6

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    Answered . Most public defenders are very qualified. There's nothing about your case that warrants your anxiety being so elevated. Try and stay calm. It's a shoplifting charge, not armed robbery!

  4. Michael Lewis Marley

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . Good lawyers come in different categories. I do only private cases but many really good lawyers do 18b (assigned and paid by state) work.
    If you can afford a lawyer, then hire one you will be comfortable with. If you can't afford it you still likely will be represented capably.
    But I see your point about worthwhile "debt" for legal fees.

    Law Office Of Michael Marley
    Phone 917 853 4484

  5. Joshua Sachs

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . Most likely the judge would grant a continuance if a private attorney was willing to enter the case. When you speak to private attorneys, ask whether that is likely to be problem.

  6. Jayson Lutzky

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . You can always hire a private lawyer. Some 18b and legal aid lawyers are excellent attorneys, there caseload and skill levels vary. If you want a private lawyer that is your choice.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate... more
  7. Richard C. Southard

    Contributor Level 19

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is not too late. Keep in mind that most experienced criminal lawyers have reduced rates for handling cases such as these, as they can typically be resolved in one or two court appearances. Also speak to the lawyer that you are interested in hiring about possible payment options and whether they take credit cards. It is much easier to hire a private attorney than I think you expect. Finally search the lawyer out on the internet to see if they have any promotions or coupons for new clients. I think it is a wise investment in your future as money can always be replaced; however, a criminal record in New York State cannot be erased or expunged in the future. Good Luck.

    All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any... more

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