Public defenders are lawyers. I assume you are wondering whether to hire a lawyer or take one that the court pays for.
Generally, if you have the financial resources to afford an attorney, you won't qualify for the court appointed lawyer, so this may not be a decision you have to make.
Lawyers who work as public defenders usually do so because of their deep commitment to defending the accused. They tend to be more familiar with the court, judges, and prosecutors than someone who only occaisionly does criminal defense or who is not familiar with that particular court.
Sometimes public defenders can be stretched too thin by large caseloads. However, there is no guarantee that a privately retained lawyer will have any more time than a public defender.
In the end, it comes down to the individual lawyer you end up with, whether retained or court appointed. Many of the finest lawyers in the country work as public defenders.
I agree with Ms. Fine, that most public defenders are really good lawyers, but very overworked. I do happen to believe that most private lawyers are able to (and do) give more time to a case than the swamped public defenders.
To answer your other question: yes, if you started with a Public Defender and wanted to hire a private lawyer later, you have every right to. But if you can afford a private lawyer, you are best off starting with someone you trust and staying with him/her.
Less Than .08% BAC & Still Arrested for a California DUI?!
If the legal limit for a California DUI is .08, can I still get arrested for a California DUI - driving under the influence of alcohol - when I blew only .05, .06 or .07?
A California drunk driving charge depends on the facts & circumstances.
Can you remember going to a party, someone got drunk and started hitting on your spouse?
And when teased the next day that person swore it was only two drinks?
Alcohol affects different Californians in different ways. Some people may experience mild effects after two or three drinks; some people may be impaired after one.
California's .08 law exists because of federal funding pressure and because that law states that a .08 blood-alcohol level will impair anyone. But you may have a lower concentration of alcohol in your blood and still be allegedly impaired according to California DUI law.
At a recent party, a friend brought my portable breath test machine and began testing people. Few at that party reached a .08. One person claimed she felt too buzzed to drive by the time she reached .07. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of alcohol to get impaired. Each person is different and so is her or his physiology.
A California DUI is one the most defended criminal cases by California criminal defense lawyers in California courts. The accused has a lot to lose if convicted. DUIs are extremely costly in terms of fines, court-imposed fees, insurance rates, ignition interlock devices, vehicle impounds, public work service, alcohol programs, and jail.
One of the biggest reasons people hire California DUI criminal defense attorneys to fight their California Drunk Driving charges is fear of losing their driver’s license. Our culture makes daily living difficult without personal transportation, particularly in rural areas.
California DUI police officers don’t always just depend just on numbers from a breath sample to decide if someone is impaired. A skilled and honest California DUI officer often knows, before doing a breath test, if the driver is likely to be arrested for a California DUI.
Unsteady gait, distinctly slurred speech, misunderstanding comprehensible directions, unexplained difficulty with basic motor skills and the manner of driving are possible characteristics that may say more about someone’s possible impairment than numbers on a machine.
California DUI laws and issues are extremely complex.
California Drunk Driving Criminal Defense Lawyers often have to deal with prosecution experts who try to claim that people can be impaired at .05.
If you are under .05, there is a jury instruction (below) that you are presumed not to be under the influence of alcohol.
If you are a commercial driver, it is unlawful to drive a commercial vehicle with a .04 BAC.
If you are an non-commercial adult driver who was charged with a California DUI at less than .08, you’ve learned the hard way that a small amount of alcohol can cause possible impairment, at least in the opinion of some California DUI police officer.
It gets very complicated for a California DUI criminal defense lawyer who must deal with many different jury instructions in California DUI cases.
e.g. California Criminal Jury Instruction Number
2110. Driving Under the Influence (Veh. Code, § 23152(a))
A person is under the influence if, as a result of (drinking [or
consuming] an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] taking a drug), his or
her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is
no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober
person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
The manner in which a person drives is not enough by itself to
establish whether the person is or is not under the influence of (an
alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence
of an alcoholic beverage and a drug].
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