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DUI Public Defenders
When it comes to public defenders once size does not fit all. Michigan does not have a uniform public defender system, and this leaves it up to each County to decide how to provide representation to those who cannot otherwise afford to hire a lawyer. In some courts a court appointed lawyer is appointed by the judge on a case-by-case basis. This can create a conflict though, because judges are always interested in docket control, and there may be direct or indirect pressure for the court appointed lawyer to not take cases to trial. Alternatively, some locations have public defender offices, and in this case, the office is like a large law firm devoted only to indigent defense. A good public defender's office can be an excellent foil to a prosecuting attorney's office, which is also like a very large law firm, except one dedicated to earning convictions.
There is also a disparity among public defenders and court appointed lawyers insofar as experience knowledge and dedication. Some public defenders are excellent, they work hard, get trained and know their stuff. They also have an insider track because they only work in a limited number of courts. Consequently, they become well known the judges and staff. But, just like any other profession or job, there are others who just "phone it in. "They plead all their cases, and never real look for defenses or try hard for their clients. Sadly, the same is true of some paid lawyers!
While most public defenders are good attorneys, going with one when you are facing a charge as serious as operating while intoxicated (OWI) might not be the best option. The punishment for an OWI conviction could include incarceration, a suspended license, community service and stiff fines. If you are facing a drunk-driving charge, consider finding a defense lawyer to speak with about your options at this time.
Not everyone is eligible for a public defender—you must earn below a certain income to meet the requirements to retain a public defender. To prove your eligibility, you will have to submit a finance and asset disclosure. In some cases, the judge could order you to sell out your assets so you can afford to hire an OWI defense lawyer.
There are several disadvantages to retaining a public defender for your OWI case. The first is that public defenders are often bogged down with time constraints. Because they have so many open cases, they must prioritize based on the seriousness of the punishment. This means that your OWI cases may come behind other crimes such as robbery or murder.
Public defenders are also expected to know a little bit about different types of criminal defense. This may leave them without enough time to take training courses on the field sobriety tests or chemical test evidence that can be used against you in court. Plus, this kind of advanced legal training can be expensive and t therefore beyond the means of a public defender. Without the scientific background, challenging this evidence can be very difficult.
Another disadvantage is that when you are assigned a public defender, you are stuck with him or her. This can make things difficult if you do not like or feel comfortable with the public defender assigned to your case. If you hire your own attorney, you can shop around first and keep looking until you find one in whom you have confidence and that you can trust.