You have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel for criminal trials in California. This right to counsel means that you can seek the help of a public defender if you’ve been arrested for a DUI. If you have the choice between a public defender and representing yourself, you are in much better hands with one of the talented individuals working for your local public defender’s office than on your own.
However, your best defense option is often a private DUI lawyer. The specialized experience of a DUI lawyer, along with the time and resources available to them, can mean the difference between getting a full conviction at trial, a better plea deal (e.g., public intoxication, wet reckless), or having the charges dismissed altogether.
We offer a free consultation to any individual accused of DUI in Los Angeles. To schedule your free case evaluation, call us today at (310) 862-0199 or fill in your contact information on the right.
Public Defenders Are Great but Overworked
It takes a special kind of person to become a public defender, which means the job attracts some of the most dedicated individuals. Despite the high caliber of lawyers working as public defenders, they are often overworked and underfunded.
Public Defenders Work Across Criminal Justice System
Public defenders do not specialize in any one aspect of criminal law. They can be appointed to represent any individual accused of a criminal offense. While this gives them a great insight into the whole justice system, it can be difficult to master any one area. Lawyers typically work best in areas in which they have the most experience, which may or may not be DUI law.
One study of the Los Angeles County Public Defender Office found that the average attorney working there oversaw 180 felony and 1,200 misdemeanor cases per year. While the number of felony cases was moderately above the national average, the number of misdemeanor cases was more than triple the recommended caseload. Dedicating enough time to any one case in these circumstances can be practically impossible.
DUI Cases Entail More Than Just the Criminal Aspect
When you are arrested for a DUI, you are entered into both the criminal justice system and the administrative system of the DMV. According to state law, a DUI arrest triggers an automatic suspension of your license. You have 10 days from your arrest to fight this automatic process and a hearing within 30 days.
If you’ve sought the services of a public defender, this process is entirely up to you. The DMV’s hearing and suspension are outside the job duties of a public defender. Even if the public defender can have your DUI charges dropped, you may still end up with a suspended license because of the DMV.
Public Defenders Aren’t Always Free for You
As public defender offices are frequently underfunded, they cannot always provide free legal services. Free services from a public defender require individuals to have:
- A low income
- A high number of dependents
- Few assets
- A poor debt to income ratio
That’s not to say that a public defender won’t work with you if these factors don’t properly apply. Instead, you may find yourself at the end of your DUI trial with a verdict you don’t like and a judgement requiring you to also reimburse some of the costs of your defense.
The Difference a Private DUI Lawyer Can Make
Hiring a private DUI lawyer comes with several advantages over a public defender. These include:
- The ability to represent you at the DMV suspension hearing
- The freedom to represent you in court without your presence for misdemeanor charges
- Extra time outside of court to evaluate the facts of your case and prepare your defense
The more time spent building a solid defense for your DUI case, the more your chances improve of receiving a better outcome. The extra time available to private DUI lawyers means that there is more time to:
- Discover procedural errors in your case
- Fight the inclusion of improperly obtained evidence
- Negotiate for better treatment
A private DUI lawyer is better able to see problems with the prosecution’s case against you, which is critical to getting better plea bargains or having the charges dismissed entirely.
Plea Bargain Options
With the extra time and expertise in handling DUI cases, your private lawyer is better able to negotiate for a lesser charge. Possible downgraded charges include:
- Wet reckless
- Dry reckless
- Exhibition of speed
- Drunk in public
- Open container
- Drinking in a vehicle
While these charges may still carry criminal penalties and fines, they often have a substantially lower impact on your life. Unlike these charges, a DUI carries:
- Mandatory jail time
- License suspension
- DUI education classes
- A stigma that may affect employment, school applications, or your ability to rent an apartment
These may be hard to quantify in terms of dollar value, but they are often much harder to deal with than people anticipate.
Talk with a Private DUI Lawyer Today
Before you choose to go for a public defender, you should have your case evaluated by a skilled lawyer that specializes in DUI cases. You can schedule your free consultation with one of your experienced lawyers by calling (310) 862-0199.