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Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer or Go with the Public Defender?

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of criminal defendants to an attorney, even when they can’t afford one. If you are charged with a crime, you might consider asking the judge for a public defender. But should you? Are there advantages to hiring your own Houston criminal defense attorney?

Public Defenders Are Overworked & Short-Staffed

Texas has many great public defenders—committed, highly skilled, and experienced in criminal trials. Unfortunately, the public defender’s office is usually overloaded with clients. It isn’t unusual for public defenders to be juggling literally hundreds of cases at one time. Unless you are charged with a capital crime that could result in a death sentence, your attorney probably can’t commit all her hours to your case.

Things are different with private criminal defense attorneys. At The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, for example, we control the number of cases we take. And ethical rules require that we give solid representation to all our clients, so we have little incentive for overextending ourselves by taking on too many clients. We can provide high quality, detailed representation to everyone we represent.

Criminal cases require a close attention to detail, and any defendant benefits by having a lawyer who can commit fully to their case. For example, based on a close review of the evidence, we might conclude the police violated your rights by stopping you without probable cause. We can then ask a judge to suppress any evidence obtained in an illegal search.

You Have No Control Over Which Public Defender Represents You

Although some public defenders have great experience, many of them are green behind the ears. You might literally be the first person they have ever defended in a court. As a defendant, you have no ability to pick which public defender you get. Sadly, you might end up with someone who is cutting their teeth on this Houston DWI or burglary charge.

If you don’t like your attorney, it’s also hard to get the judge to appoint a different defender. Instead, the judge might dismiss your lawyer and let you represent yourself—which is a terrible choice for anyone facing potential jail time.

A Private Attorney Won’t Push a Plea Deal

One way public defenders deal with their heavy caseloads is to push plea bargains on their clients. Admittedly, a plea deal is sometimes the best way to resolve a case—especially if there is solid evidence of your guilt but the plea deal will help you avoid jail. At the same time, however, a plea deal might be a bad choice for other defendants. If evidence is weak, or the police obtained evidence illegally, you should push for a dismissal of all charges or for an acquittal.

Speak with a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The Houston criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates have the skill and experience you need to favorably resolve your criminal case. Please contact our office to schedule a time to meet.