One of the most important rights you are granted by the United States Constitution is your right to counsel. Unlike other areas of law, criminal law will provide an attorney for you if you are unable to hire one on your own. This is because your rights in a criminal case are extremely important, and the consequences of your case can affect your life, your livelihood, and many other aspects of your life. This is why it is important to be fully aware of your rights, and the consequences of your pleas in a criminal court.
At the very first hearing you will attend after being charged, the arraignment, the court will read you your rights. One of these rights being your right to counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you. This would be a public defender.
Public defenders are very experienced and competent representatives, however, they are overwhelmed with cases. At any given point they are handling a large amount of cases before the Judge on the same day as your case. This means they have minimal time to be able to spend preparing for your case and speaking to you beforehand.
Private counsel on the other hand has the option of taking a limited number of cases at any point. Furthermore, when they appear in court, it is likely that they do not have more than two cases on that day. Oftentimes, it is only your case that they are appearing for. This means that they have plenty of time to speak to you in the weeks prior to your hearing, to review the discovery in your case, to speak to you in detail about the facts and the be fully prepared prior to court.
If initially you decide to go with a public defender, you always have the option to hiring private counsel. As stated previously, your right to counsel is an important one, and one the court will take very seriously. If you inform the court that you would like a continuance so that you may hire an attorney, you will be given that opportunity. If you proceed with a public defender but find you want that more focused one on one attention from your attorney, you may start shopping around looking to hire. You are in no way locked to one attorney.
In any case, it is very important to your rights, your future and your case that you speak to an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney regarding your options. There may be numerous defenses or arguments available to you, and you want to make sure you are taking advantage of the stronger facts in your case. If you do not practice law, and are not regularly in front of a Judge handling these types of cases, you will be lost. Make the smart decision and give yourself the best possible chance of getting your case reduced or dismissed.