Which representation option is best for your criminal or DUI defense?
This article is from an interview with Utah DUI defense attorney Jason Schatz. This section discusses selecting your best option for criminal defense.
Interviewer: Do many people think, “I’ll just get a public defender” or “I’ll just defend it myself”? What are the pros and cons of those options versus hiring a private attorney?
Attorney Schatz: Self-representation has a lot of downsides, one of the biggest being that the average person does not know the laws or the criminal processes well enough to safely navigate a criminal case. It can also be a very scary process. Because it can burden the already-burdened process, the court often doesn’t have a lot of patience for pro se representation.
Regarding using a public defender, you first have to meet the requirements to use public defense. Most people make too much money. And even if you do qualify, it’s like anything else in life: You get what you paid for. Although I know many public defenders who, for all intents and purposes, they’re very good attorneys, a public defender has an extremely high caseload. They simply don’t have the time and the resources to fully investigate a case, to spend the needed time with the client to get their side of the story to understand their personal, particular situation and to seek all the evidence possible. They just simply don’t have the time to do that. Sometimes they don’t even meet their client until they are handed the case file on the day of court.
Whereas I have three paralegals that work just for me, instead of a public defender who may have one paralegal shared between four attorneys.
We have a lot more time and a lot more resources. We take the time to get to know our client’s case better. We investigate more thoroughly. We devote time in order to understand our client’s particular situation. We define what the most important goals are to accomplish and we devise a real strategy on how to accomplish those goals.