Should I Use a Public Defender for a Misdemeanor Charge?

Entering the criminal legal system is a daunting experience regardless of the circumstances, whether you or loved one is charged with a felony.


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Entering the criminal legal system is a daunting experience regardless of the circumstances, whether you or loved one is charged with a felony or misdemeanor.  Perhaps at no other point in your life will so much be potentially at stake, and the stakes can have life-altering consequences that last longer than any jail sentence imposed by the judge or jury.

Indeed, criminal records are increasingly being used by employers and landlord as the minimum threshold when considering offering employment or providing housing respectively, and convictions might risk access to governmental programs or immigration status.

Moreover, you may note that the mere news of your arrest has changed attitudes amidst your current peer group as well, which is often a sad by-product of the entire ordeal that serves to hurt and strain family relationships.  Needless to say, it is in your best interest to secure qualified legal representation to help clear your name as soon as possible and in the most definitive manner.

While felony charges carry penalties that immediately suggest you should seek private legal counsel, many people ask whether they should use a public defender for a misdemeanor charge.  Knowing when to hire a private attorney is critical, and that applies to whether you have been charged with felony or misdemeanor charges.

The Courts and the Nature of Criminal Charges

Anyone who has watched court procedural shows on television over the past 30-years knows that the name of the game appears to be to get people to plead down to lesser charges, secure convictions, and keep the legal cogs moving through the larger bureaucracy.

Sadly, these sequence of events were not crafted out of whole cloth by a talented screenwriter, but rather adopted the more pedestrian approach of simply being another case of art imitating life.  While lacking in creativity perhaps, these TV shows certainly highlighted the overstretched responsibilities of the public defender’s office.

According to a recent report, public defender offices across the country are chronically understaffed and overworked.  As an example, nearly three-quarters of offices, or 73%, surpassed the maximum recommended active cases of 150 felonies or 400 classified misdemeanor cases.  As a result, many public defenders are opening your file 15 or 20 minutes before you are scheduled to go to trial.  Needless to say, this does not allow for much trial preparation.

Rather, most public defenders will seek to plea the charges down to something more palatable in the interested of securing a lesser conviction and moving the case along with the docket.  Unfortunately, a lesser conviction is still a conviction.

While your attorney will turn to the next file in his large caseload, you will have to go out into the world with a criminal conviction to reckon with as you try and find employment, housing, and government benefits that you would otherwise be entitled to receive.

As mentioned, even misdemeanor convictions can have a huge impact on your life.  Risking that future to the hands of an overworked and indifferent defence attorney is not in your best interest.  Unfortunately, while every defendant is entitled to their day in court with competent representation by their side to face charges, the public defender’s office in many cities is simply not up to the weighty task of providing that representation.

If You’re Wondering When to Hire a Private Attorney: The Time is Now

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, felony or misdemeanor, you will want to receive competent legal counsel that you can trust to navigate the storm of legal waters that is headed your way.  Here at Wolf & Sec LLC, we specialize in criminal and family law cases throughout DuPage County and surrounding environs.

Our team of trained investigators and attorneys understand what is at stake for you and your family in the event of a criminal conviction, and our team is ready to mount a robust defense on day one of your case.

Unlike an overtaxed, overworked, understaffed, and underfunded public defender’s office, we always put the full resources of our office and team to help you resolve complex legal matters, so if you are wondering when to hire a private attorney, you should retain one the moment criminal charges are filed

Contact our team here at Wolf & Sec LLC in our Woodridge, IL office so we can begin planning your criminal defense.  Don’t leave your freedom to chance when faced with criminal charges.  The implications can extend beyond the fines, fees, and penalties assigned by the court, but it can also lead to incarceration and a criminal record that will only haunt you and your family.


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