Court-Appointed Criminal Defense Attorney vs. Private Criminal Defense Attorney

Amidst the dense and difficult niche of criminal laws and justice, a criminal defense attorney plays multiple roles as a guide, confidant and protector for the defendant. Defense attorneys usually belong to either of two camps – court-appointed lawyers who receive payment from the government and private lawyers who receive fees from the defendants. The court-appointed criminal lawyers represent the defendants who are unable to afford a private lawyer’s fee.

The government-paid and court-appointed criminal defense lawyers are also called “panel lawyers”. A fraction, though very small, of criminal defendants is called as “pro per” or “pro se” defendants as they choose to represent themselves.

Understanding How Criminal Defense Attorneys Work

Criminal defense attorneys evaluate the facts in light of collected evidences, personal investigation, police report, testimonials and negotiate with the prosecutors in order to strike a deal in favor of their clients. The deal may be for anything – reduced charges, reduced bail and reduced sentences.

A number of factors including public and political pressure, overcrowded court calendars and overloaded prisons, has made deal negotiation more important and an essential component in ensuring justice through already jammed criminal justice system.

Integral to their professional way of investigation to bring truth in light and most importantly, defend the defendants, the lawyers examine and cross examine the witnesses, build up a plea, incisively analyze the prosecutor’s case, evaluate the potential sentences (the possibility of a particular judge giving a verdict of such sentence) and assess ‘search and seizure’ procedures.

A defence counsel offers more personalized service by allowing the defendant to do a reality check related to the possible outcomes as well as by helping the defendant manage humiliations, fear and frustrations that are natural but nasty outcomes of being tossed into the jungle of the criminal justice system.

In case it’s not possible to make a plea deal, a Rochester MN criminal defense attorney represents his client (the defendant) at trial.

How Money Comes in

Money matters in legal representation when the defendant’s financial condition makes an issue, referring to the cases of the defendants who cannot afford a private lawyer’s fee (indigent). Good news for the indigent defendants is they are entitled to court-appointed legal counsel. For some criminal defendants, an attorney’s fee is not a burden on their pocket. However, making arrangement for legal presentation is usually not a straightforward way for those who don’t belong to either of these camps.

Keep in mind that the right to free legal representation never means that the defendant is entitled to make a choice.

Who is Better – A Court-Appointed Attorney or a Private Attorney?

Private lawyers charge either fixed fee or on an hourly basis. Private lawyers are not allowed to charge contingency fees, based on the outcome of the case. Many private lawyers are former public defendants or public prosecutors.

Whether you are represented by a court-appointed attorney or a private attorney, the outcome of your case is subject to the merits it has as well as your lawyer’s skill, experience and commitment.