What Are My Chances of Winning a DUI Case with a Public Defender?

  • Post last modified:November 25, 2023

Will a Public Defender Fight Hard on Your Behalf?

Criminal charges of any kind, including DUI charges, can have serious consequences on your future. Even if it’s a first-time DUI charge treated as a misdemeanor, a conviction can mean temporary loss of your license, fines, and other penalties. The conviction also goes on your record, and that can cause challenges in the future in finding work, renting an apartment or home, or managing other elements of your life.

When you’re facing DUI charges, you obviously want to know that you have experienced legal help. A lawyer can help you understand the charges and what options you have—including alternative sentencing—create a defense strategy, and fight for your rights. However, a public defender may be unable to give your case the time and attention that a criminal lawyer you hire can provide.

Disadvantages of Public Defenders for DUI Cases

Public defenders are available to ensure that everyone has the option to be represented by an attorney if they are charged with a crime. However, there are some potential disadvantages to using a public defender.

They Have a Large Case Load

Public defenders are typically government employees, and they may be working under heavy caseloads. They may not have time to fully attend to your case, which means small but important details can escape notice or work on your defense might be more rushed than it has to be. This can lead to mistakes, omissions, or lackluster decisions that leave you facing penalties you might not have ended up facing if you worked with a criminal defense attorney and team who could devote more time to your case.

They Are Generalists

In many cases, public defenders are legal or criminal law generalists. Because they must work whatever case is assigned to them, they don’t always end up with a lot of experience in one type of case, such as DUI cases. This means they may not be as experienced with the laws, loopholes, and defenses that can help increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in a DUI defense case.

Reduce Options for Communication

One of the biggest negative impacts that comes from a public defender having a bigger caseload and potentially more limited resources than a criminal defense attorney is on communication. When you hire a good criminal defense attorney, they make time to talk to you and hear your side of a case. They may spend a lot of time asking you questions and answering yours, which can help them understand the unique details of your case and create a more effective defense strategy.

The level of communication you may have with a criminal defense attorney you hire can also provide some peace of mind for you and your family during a stressful time. Having your questions answered can make a big difference in your mental and emotional state as you decide on next steps and approach any hearings.

However, these benefits are rarely this available with a public defender. You may only speak to this person once, possibly just before or during a hearing.

Reduced Accountability

Criminal defense attorneys are held accountable by numerous means, including the rules of bar associations and state laws. However, they are also held accountable by the opinion of their previous clients, as bad word-of-mouth, reviews, and press can cause attorneys to lose out on future clientele.

Public defenders are appointed to cases, however, and don’t need to foster client goodwill and a strong “brand name” to gain more cases in the future. Most public defenders are diligent in their work and don’t want to make mistakes or let clients down. However, it remains a fact that a mistake or poor outcome in a public defender case does not reflect on the lawyer in the same way it would on a criminal defense attorney who is hired by clients.

Can You Just Represent Yourself?

Criminal law is complex, and seemingly small errors or misunderstandings can result in big negative impacts. On top of that, when you are the defendant, you are emotionally involved in the case to a degree that it can be difficult to sort out details and make logical decisions without some help from an experienced lawyer. Even if you are fairly familiar with the law—or even an attorney yourself—you may want to forgo self-defense for that reason.

When you defend yourself, you may find that you end up facing more severe consequences than you would have faced with an experienced attorney at your side. That can include loss of license for longer than necessary, lack of alternative sentencing options, higher fees, or longer times in jail.

Why You Should Work With an Experienced DUI Attorney

An experienced DUI attorney takes some of the burden and stress from your shoulders. They show up to fight for your rights and help you understand the details of your case and what outcomes you might face.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, don’t face it alone or with a lawyer who can’t concentrate on your best interests. Reach out to the Law Offices of Jerry Nicholson to find out how we can help. Call us today at 562-205-8499 to make an appointment.