Asked 4 months ago - Renton, WAFlag
I am getting charged with a DUI of .20mg of Oxycottin, and since this is my first DUI, I felt no need for a Attorney and go for the Public Defender. But when my Public Defender offered me a plea deal of pleaing guilty on my Pre-Trial as the deal, I noticed she is not concerned whether or not I get charged with this or not. I am highly willing to fight this so I did not take her offer, so now I am reconsidering a Lawyer of my choice instead. But have doubts since I am so close to Trial if my case will be handled properly on switching Lawyers. And whether if it is better off to keep the public defender since she has already been dealing with my case. Or hire my personal lawyer????
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I won't say a word against our region's public defenders. You'd be hard-pressed to find a group of people more dedicated to justice. Thing is, they're inherently overworked-- it's the nature of the job, at least this decade. A PD handling cases like yours walks into a courtroom to handle pretrials with literally a stack of files, so your case is only one of a great many. The PD doesn't have time to get to know you, and probably doesn't have a whole lot of emotional energy to spare for any one client at a pretrial conference.
Whether it is worth your while to get a private attorney will depend on the specifics of your case and your personal finances. Two months is, yes, probably adequate to get up to speed, and your attorney, yes, can ask for a continuance if time becomes an actual issue. However, another issue to bear in mind is that PD's build experience very quickly because of the volume of cases they handle. An attorney with equivalent expertise may be difficult to find within your price range, and few criminal defense attorneys take cases pro bono.
But if you badly want an attorney who has time and attention to spare for your case, and yours alone, then yes, a private attorney will be able to provide that much more easily than a PD.
Many public defenders are very good. The problem with the public defender is that you can't change. If you're not comfortable given the fact that you have two months you're probably okay to hire your own lawyer. You should look for one through an organization like the national college for DUI defense lawyers.
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You are asking the people that you would hire, Hey should I hire you? Of course we are going to say YES. However, PD are very good attorneys and you need to sit down and make sure your attorney understands where you are coming from BUT ALSO you need to listen to him/her and know where he/she is coming from because at this point he/she is the only one that has all the info!!. Go talk, you have nothing to lose except a few thousand dollars hiring an attorney.
Public defenders are attorneys too! Having a private attorney does not necessarily mean that you will get a different result in court. Only DUIs with serious legal or proof issues don't resolve with a guilty plea. A private attorney can't change the facts of your case or the law. PDs generally have better relationships with the prosecutors and judges, because they work with them all the time, and they are very familiar with how their court works and what plea offers are best. Private attorneys are spread between many different courts, judges, and prosecutors. Maybe a private attorney can devote more time to a case, but maybe not. They also have lots of clients. I have represented clients as both a public defender and a private attorney and I can honestly say, I spent just as much time on my public clients as I do my private ones. Additionally, the state recently instituted case limits for public defenders in Washington, so each attorney has a smaller case load and has more time to spend on each client. Most likely, a PD would not advise you to take a plea unless they thought it was your best option.
That being said, you should be comfortable with your attorney and if you are not, hire a private one.
Two months should be adequate time for a new attorney to get up to speed on your matter. If not, the new attorney may be able to seek additional time. Make sure the lawyer you decide to go with is an experienced DUI defense practitioner who would be able to take your case to trial is settlement isn't an option.
If you are able to afford an attorney you shouldn't have a public defender to begin with. Public defenders are generally very skilled attorneys though they also have caseloads far greater than private attorneys. If you have the means, you should hire an criminal defense attorney who dedicates a great deal of his/her practice to DUI defense. Rarely if ever will a court deny a request by an incoming attorney to continue a case, regardless of whether it is already set for trial. Assuming you make a wise choice in selecting your new attorney, he/she will ensure the case is continued for a length of time sufficient to fully investigate for either possible negotiation or trial. But you should make your decision and act as soon as possible, for all the reasons stated above, and also to give that attorney as much time as possible. Drug related DUI cases are particularly complicated, your incoming attorney may want to consider alternative blood testing, consulting with experts etc. Give your new attorney every advantage you can. Best of luck.
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