I'm sorry I didn't get back to you I have been swamped. And I am sorry no one has taken your question seriously and actually provide you some information to work with. True, threat to life is not really relevant to Robbery. And it does not make any sense at all that your brother would be facing 225 years just for Robbery. So there is some miscommunication going on here somewhere.
Ill give my standard speech about the Public Defender's office. They have some very good lawyers and some bad ones. The same can be said of private attorney's and D.A's. The reason people often become frustrated with the Public Defender's Office is there is a lack of continuity that starts out at the beginning of the case. To them your brother is a file. And it's one of hundreds they have to deal with. Typically the file will go through several different PD's until it gets to the person actually trying the case. Due to their caseload it is very hard for them to give much time to each case and very rarely give any comfort or information to families. I think they fail terribly at this but there is a reason for it.
We, as private attorneys value the recommendations of our clients and their families because this is our business. Public Defenders really could care less because they get paid win lose or draw. And many of them forget their clients and the families are real people. The biggest difference between a PD and a private attorney is that you are paying for our time. And that includes time spent out of court, talking to the client, the family, etc. If more PD's did this there would be less people like you who see what's going on in court, are not informed about what's happening, and see that their loved one is not getting any information.
The truth is the PD's really don't have alot of time to spend with their clients. And some have become lazy and jaded. But at the higher levels, they are just as good if not better in trial than many of us. If the PD took the time to explain to your brother and you how the courts work and why things are happening the way they are these kinds of accusations, which I hear alot, would not happen.
No matter what you think of the PD you should encourage your brother NOT to go Pro Per. That's suicide. Unfortunately a good defense in a felony case does cost money. Money buys time and resources, things the PD does not have. I hope that helps.
There is little if any pro bono criminal defense services available because the Public Defender's office handles the cases of those who cannot afford private defense counsel. The kind of conspiracy that you are concerned about is so unlikely as to be the stuff of bad movies and TV shows. The sheer size of the offices of the District Attorney and Public Defender make it untenable for there to exist any successful conspiracy between the offices. Too many people would need to be in on the secret.
Trust that Jose's assigned public defender will advise him that the "I was threatened by a guy..." defense is unlikely to be successful, and leave his PD alone to work with Jose to develop a defense that better serves Jose's needs. If he is truly facing 225 years, there is very likely to be some very high-quality defense services provided. And necessarily so.
Reading this post reminded me that Deputy P.D.'s are truly unsung heroes of criminal defense practice.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
I do not find "robbery" to be a likely response to being threatened .... that simply makes very little sense. As a former prosecutor, it always amazes me how many people seem to think that the DA and PD engage in conspiracies to "get" people. The PD and DA's office are made up of people who spent a lot of time an effort to get a legal education and otherwise make themselves prepared to practice law. Why would they want to risk there careers and liberty by conspiring to get people?
If Jose is facing 225 years and he is unhappy with his free lawyer he can certainly hire a lawyer of his own choice and he should do so ASAP.
Why is it that for the defendant facing 225 years it is always the Public Defender's fault? The attorney did not put your brother where he is; he did. The proposed necessity or duress defense does not have the ring of truth to it and does not account for the possible length of sentence. There is more here than appears in the question (it is a good thing that all of the facts were not brought out), but you and your brother should stand back and let the appointed attorney do his/her best work.
Although I am an experienced CA criminal defense and appeals attorney, I can not 'guarantee' that my answer is entirely accurate, since I have not reviewed all of the factual circumstances of the case, nor have I discussed those circumstances fully with the questioner. The fact that I have answered this question does not establish an attorney client relationship between the questioner and my self or my office.