If your son cannot afford an attorney then the judge will appoint a permanent attorney (Assistant Public Defender) at the time of his arraignment which is usually 21 days after his arrest. The judge will generally request that your son fill out a financial affidavit and assuming he really has no assets or significant money then he will very likely qualify for the services of the Public Defender.
Many Public Defenders are very fine attorneys who practice daily in the courts often before the same judge day in and day out. Do not think that because they are a Public Defender that they are any less skilled than a private attorney.
Best of luck to your son.
I agree with the last attorney that there are many fine public defenders. However, the public defender assigned to your son may not be his first choice of representation. Being randomly assigned an attorney isn't the best method. If your son is charged with a felony, his public defender is probably experienced (probably). If he is charged with a misdemeanor, his attorney might be a recent hire just out of law school with little or no trial experience. You just don't know.
Imagine needing a heart surgery and you are randomly assigned a surgeon who might have graduated from medical school yesterday. That is the first problem with the public defender; it is the luck of the draw. The other problem with a public defender is that they are often overworked with too many cases. Your son's case might be just one in 250 cases. It is difficult to give a case the attention to detail it deserves with that case load. That being said, I still can't say enough about the public defender's office. They do so much with what little resources they are given. (Disclosure: my wife is a public defender).
When hiring a private attorney you can research the attorney's experience and if you don't like what you see, you can move on to another. You will get to know the attorney before hiring him or her and you can decide whether the attorney is right for your son (and your pocketbook). Attorneys will quote wildly different fees. Speak to the attorney about the costs associated with hiring him or her and find out if the attorney allows payment arrangements. You will be surprised that many attorneys are affordable and offer creative payment schedules.
I practice criminal defense in Central Florida. I am also a former prosecutor who is familiar with the local attorneys in this area. Feel free to call me on my cell 407-383-7461 and I can point you in the right direction.
The above is not advice. An attorney client relationship has not been established by the answering of these questions. More information is always needed before accurate advice can be given. Feel free to call the Jason Hicks Law Firm at 407.383.7461 for a detailed consultation. Do not rely solely on the answers to the questions in this forum as more information is needed.
Anyone facing criminal prosecution is entitled to representation. If the Court is to find that your son is indigent, the Court will appoint a Public Defender to represent him. Many Public Defenders I see in action are fine attorneys. However, being appointed an attorney means that your son will not have the benefit of chossing an attorney he feels comfortable with. Right now it may seem as though you are faced with an impossible task, but it may be worth your while to at least consult with an attorney. Many firms including mine offer payment plans to give persons charged with criminal offenses the ability to choose their own attorney.
Michael E. Zmijewski
501 N. Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
There are plenty to choose from. If you have an attorney with whom you have worked in the past and whom you trust, ask him/her for a referral. If not, ask your friends and family for recommendations of good criminal defense attorneys. With some exceptions, you tend to get what you pay for.