It is well known that someone accused of committing a crime may request an attorney, and one will be appointed to them. However, this is not always the best option because public defenders who generally will be appointed to the case are usually spread too thin and have little time to dedicate to a specific case and person. On the other hand, a private criminal defense attorney can say no to certain cases, meaning they will not be spread as thin as a public defender giving them the ability to fully understand and dedicate ample time to one case, as necessary.
In addition, the attorneys here at George Law will only take a case if they are confident they have the time to properly represent the client to the best of their ability. To schedule a free consultation with one of our reputable attorneys, contact us at (248) 247-7459 or online.
Differences Between A Public Defender And A Private Criminal Defense Attorney
You May Not Qualify For A Public Defender
Only individuals who cannot afford to hire representation for themselves can be appointed public defenders. Under Michigan law, to qualify for a public defender, the defendant must be unable to obtain legal representation without placing themselves in substantial financial hardship. Substantial financial hardship is presumed if the defendant receives public assistance, resides in public housing, or earns less than 140% of the federal poverty guideline.
If the defendant is not presumed to have a financial hardship, they will be subject to more screening to determine if they qualify for a public defender. This screening includes looking at the seriousness of the charges, their monthly income and expenses, and even the cost of local private counsel.
Different Communication Levels
One thing that people notice between a public defender and a private attorney is availability and communication. As discussed, a public defender has no choice in their workload, which results in them spending a lot of their time in court at arraignments and hearings, leaving them insufficient time to meet with or communicate with all their clients.
On the other hand, a private criminal defense attorney can decline cases before their workload begins to affect their availability and communication with clients. For many people, this helps to ease the nervousness because when questions or concerns arise, your attorney will be available to assist. Many private defense attorneys will answer emails outside the regular 9-5 working hours.
Results May Differ
While this may not always be the case, depending on the case itself, a private criminal defense attorney has more at stake when representing clients than a public defender does. The government employs a public defender, and they will continue to be assigned cases. However, a private defense attorney’s reputation depends on performing well and getting good client results.
Understanding Law Firm Fees
There are a variety of legal fees that may apply to your case depending on the circumstances of your case, including but not limited to the following:
- Consultation Fees: Some attorneys may charge a fee to review the case and determine whether they can assist you with the case. Here at George Law Firm, we do not charge consultation fees. Instead, our attorneys will review your case and give you their best advice on moving forward, which means we’ll let you know if we believe you have a solid case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (248) 247-7459 or online.
- Flat Fees: Depending on the case’s complexity and the required work level, an attorney may charge a flat fee. This is less common for criminal law because a case is generally more complex than writing a will, where flat fees are more common.
- Hourly Rate: This is the most common fee structure for an attorney, especially for criminal law cases. It is important to ask what each attorney’s hourly rate may be. Often lower-level attorneys or paralegals are working with a senior attorney on the case, and their hourly rates vary and will show up on your itemized invoice.
- Retainer Fees: A retainer isn’t a separate fee but is something that is very common in the criminal law field. A retainer is a deposit that will be applied toward the total cost or be used with the requirement of being replenished when it runs out. For example, some attorneys will require a $5,000 deposit, and the hourly rate will be applied to that deposit until it runs out. When the retainer reaches $0, the firm may ask that another $5,000 retainer be paid.
- Miscellaneous Costs: In addition to paying the attorney for their services, generally, a client will be required to pay for other costs associated with their cases, such as copies, fees for experts and depositions, and anything else not included in the attorney fee definition. To completely understand what is covered under the attorney fee definition, ask the attorney while discussing costs.
No matter what fee structure is discussed and agreed to, it should be agreed to in a written fee agreement so that each party understands the costs.
Questions To Ask A Private Criminal Defense Attorney Before Hiring Them
- Have you handled cases like mine before?
- How often do your cases go to trial?
- Will you be the only person at the law firm working on my case?
- How strong is my case?
- What strategy do you recommend for my case?
- What are all my options?
- How long will this process be?
- How often will we communicate, and how will we be communicating?
- How much will my defense cost?
Hiring George Law Firm
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, it is vital to have the best legal representation possible to avoid the hefty penalties that the charges could bring. The attorneys at George Law Firm have ample experience representing individuals in various criminal defense cases. To schedule a free consultation to hear from one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at (248) 247-7459 or online.