If you have been accused of a crime with penalties ranging from fines to up to five years in prison, you probably know that the consequences can be life-changing. The best way to ensure your future isn’t ruined is with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys know criminal law best because they’ve studied it for many years and know how to use that expertise in a courtroom. From investigating the charges to preparing for trial, these lawyers know what questions to ask and which documents are most crucial to have before and during a case.
However, not every criminal defense lawyer is the same, as they have different approaches to their work. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the three systems of defense lawyers.
The 3 Systems of Defense Lawyers: An Overview
Many people are surprised to learn that almost every state has a system of appointed defense lawyers (also known as “public defenders”) that represent individuals who cannot afford an attorney. These systems vary widely from state to state, but they all have the same goal: ensuring that someone accused of a crime is provided with competent legal representation.
However, going with court-appointed attorneys is not always the best option, especially if you’re dealing with a criminal case that can attract severe penalties. If your freedom, finances, or reputation are on the line, you’re better off with a self-appointed criminal lawyer.
If you can’t access either of these two options for any reason, you can choose to hire a contract attorney.
To help you understand the intricacies that set each system apart, here’s a detailed breakdown of the three systems of defense lawyers today.
1. Private Criminal Defense Attorneys
The first option is to hire a private attorney who works on a retainer basis or an hourly rate.
This means you will pay a fee before your case begins and then have to pay additional costs during the trial, depending on how many hours your lawyer works. These fees can vary greatly depending on where you live and the intricacies of your case.
Some states require criminal lawyers to disclose their fees in advance so that you can decide whether it is worth hiring them for your particular case.
A criminal defense lawyer’s role is to provide legal representation for people or businesses charged with a criminal offense (or offenses). They work to protect their clients’ rights and ability to defend themselves.
Criminal attorneys may specialize in one area of criminal law, such as drug crimes, DUI, or theft charges, or they may specialize in all areas of the law. They also handle appeals and other post-conviction matters on behalf of their clients after they have been sentenced or convicted of a crime.
In addition to offering legal representation, a criminal defense attorney may also provide investigative services that help gather evidence for their client’s cases before trial and assist with witness preparation for the courtroom. These services typically cost more than general representation because they require more time and effort from the attorney involved.
2. Public Defender
If you cannot afford a lawyer and have been arrested for a crime, the government will provide you with a public defender.
A court-appointed attorney is a legal professional who works for the government and is assigned to represent people who cannot afford to hire their own attorney. Public defenders are paid by the government and are not allowed to make any money from the cases they handle. They are also not allowed to accept gifts from defendants or their families, even for something small like dinner or tickets to a baseball game.
Because public defenders must accept every case that comes their way (and because they are not allowed to charge a fee for their services), they tend to start as inexperienced lawyers with minimal experience in criminal defense work.
Remember that while the government may fund these offices, they often do not receive enough funding to do their jobs effectively. The employees of these public defender offices are typically overworked, understaffed, and underpaid. This means they may not have time to spend as much time on your case as you would like them to.
However, they still need to ensure that all of their clients receive proper legal representation in court.
3. Contract-Attorney Organizations
Contract-attorney organizations are usually non-profit legal groups that hire individual attorneys who work on a contract basis with them.
These organizations typically have fewer attorneys than those found in defense-attorney organizations. Luckily, they often have access to more resources (such as top experts) than smaller firms or sole practitioners. This is because they can afford to pay for them through their contracts with clients and other sources of income like grants and donations from foundations or individuals who want to support their cause.
Reach Out to Michael J. Brennan for the Best Legal Counsel in Chicago
Anyone who’s faced criminal charges understands how terrifying it can be. It is only natural for you to get worried about the repercussions that could result from your actions. You might be able to avoid your home or your job for a while, but if you’re arrested and charged with a felony, the consequences of that arrest can follow you for the rest of your life.
That being said, it is just as vital for you to understand the different criminal defense lawyers who can help you navigate the complex criminal justice system for the best possible result.
After all, having an arrest hanging over your head is not necessarily the end of the world. An experienced criminal attorney from Michael J. Brennan will investigate your case and create a strategy to prove your innocence so you can have every chance in the world to get through this without so much as any scars left behind.
Call us today at 708-460-9300 for a free case evaluation.
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