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What to do if your public defender is not doing their job

What to do if your public defender is not doing their job

Guilty or innocent, everyone has a right to competent legal representation. Ultimately, the attorney you hire to represent you will be determined by your income. Individuals who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, you are automatically assigned a public defender by the state. 

When people hear the word ‘public defender,’ the first instinct is to go into panic mode. The image painted about public defenders has not made them popular among people. However, the truth is that public defenders are good at their jobs, but many of them are overworked and underpaid. Working endless hours with very little pay to show for it takes a lot out of public defenders, and it is why some of them end up lacking in their jobs. 

If you are a client in such a situation, it can be very frustrating when your attorney is not doing their best to get justice for you. However, just because the fate of your case lies in the hands of the public defender does not mean you are entirely helpless. If you feel like your public defender is not doing his or her job, there are a few things you can do.


Speak to them

First, you should speak directly to your public defender. You can send them a letter pointing out the issues you have. Remember, you want their attention, so keep the letter civil and respectful; this way, your lawyer does not go on the defense. Case files sometimes take some time to reach the public defenders’ office so you can highlight some facts of your case. 


Reach out to their supervisor

If you have tried talking to your public defender and nothing changes, you can try reaching out to their supervisor. The supervisor could bring your concerns to the public defender’s attention and prompt them to change how they handle your court case. 


Ask for a ‘Marsen’ hearing

You can request the court for a new public defender. The judge in charge of your case will then switch public defenders on your case. If you are successful, the judge will appoint a new public defender to represent you. It is important to provide credible evidence that shows the appointed lawyer is not doing their job during your hearing. It is the only way to ensure your request is granted and not get stuck with an angry lawyer. 


Hire a private attorney

If you have done everything above and your situation remains unchanged, the best thing you can do for your case is to retain private counsel. Some people are so fast to cancel the option of hiring a private attorney assuming they cannot afford one. The thing is, you never really know until you ask because lawyers vary in hiring rates. You might find one within your price range; better yet, some private firms offer clients payment plans. Do your research and inquiries to find private legal representation you can afford. 

Complaints about clients being dissatisfied with their public defender’s work are distressingly common. While these complaints are justified because the accused deserve competent representation, it is also essential to see things from the counsel’s perspective. If we are being fair, defense lawyers are not demons with horns; people set them out to be. They are often juggling very many cases at once, intending to seek justice for their clients. There is only so much one lawyer can handle, which, unfortunately, ends with their clients being on the receiving end of these circumstances. 


Tips for working with a public defender

If you have no choice but to work with a public defender, here is a guide to help you through the process. These tips shed light on how the accused should carry themselves from the first interaction with law officers until your last day in court. 


Keep quiet

Getting heated with officers is always tempting, especially when an individual feels they are falsely accused. If you are in such a situation, it is essential to observe silence. Do not discuss anything with anyone until you have a sit down with your lawyer. You can give booking information like name and address; however, any statement you are required to provide regarding the investigation, ask to wait until your attorney is present. 


Do not consent to searches

Apart from keeping quiet, it is crucial to remember not to consent to seizure or searches without warranties. It can be intimidating, especially with a team of armed police officers. However, it is within your right not to consent to unwarranted searches until your lawyer is present. Most people are intimidated into accepting searches only because they did not know they are legally allowed to say no to an unwarranted search. 


Keep an open mind

Most people view public defenders in a negative light without giving them a chance. Going into a new relationship with your defense attorney with this thanking will only harm you. Every individual’s experience is different, so as you go into the relationship with an open mind. Do not prejudge your public defender based on presumptions because some public defenders genuinely care about their clients and are dedicated to ensuring justice on their case is served. 


Trust your public defender

We cannot stress this enough, trust between a lawyer and client is key to working a case. Public defenders have gotten a bad rap because they closely work with prosecutors; however, most people fail to realize that the public defender is legally bound to keep details of your case private. Trust that your lawyer is dedicated to serving you. It will make it easy to cooperate with them and listen to their advice regarding the case. 

To be safe, an accused should consider seeking private counsel for their cases. A private lawyer often has the resources and time to give your case the attention it deserves. Hiring a private attorney means that the lawyer works for you, so he or she will be hands-on when it comes to your  court case.

Thanks for reading. Check out more of our latest criminal law articles.

One Response

  1. I have a public defender who has lied to me and is not representing me very well. He has given me attitude when I called him out on his lie and never responds to voice mails. I have tried reaching out to the head of the public defenders office and even wrote a letter. I’ve gotten no response from them either. I need help in this situation.

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