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Too late to hire private criminal defense lawyer?

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.

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?

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Attorney answers 7

Best Answer

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. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


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)

I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.


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!


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


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.


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 it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


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 attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.

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