This is the second post in our series on whether you should retain a private attorney when charged with a crime in Virginia. Our last discussion provided an overview of the topics we will be discussing in this series and also delved into the potential consequences of going unrepresented when charged with a Virginia crime. In this article we will go over the benefits of utilizing a private attorney, as opposed to the public defender, in any Virginia criminal matter.
There are benefits to hiring a private Virginia criminal attorney as opposed to utilizing a public defender
There are several instances where Virginia residents see their offense as “no big deal” and feel they do not need to expend funds on a private criminal lawyer. These include:
Many people charged with these types of offenses can afford a private attorney but plan to utilize the public defender instead. There are two problems with this strategy. First, you may not be eligible for the public defender’s services. Second, you may be required to pay for the public defender’s services in the event of a conviction.
Not everyone in Virginia is eligible for a public defender. In order to receive free representation you must meet a set of income guidelines and show that you are unable to pay for a private lawyer. Many people feel they will qualify and are surprised to find out, at their first hearing, that they do not. The Court will continue the arraignments of such defendants so that they can come back with a private lawyer. In other words, such defendants wind up making an extra court appearance.
Also, Virginia is unlike many other states in that you may be required to pay fees to the public defender once the case is over. In our state, if you are represented by a public defender and lose your case at trial then you are required to repay the state for the public defender’s services. Again, many other states do not have this requirement and it makes utilizing a public defender much more risky than it would be in other states. If you are adamant that you are innocent, and wish to fight your case at trial, then you need to be aware that you will have to pay legal fees to a public defender in the event that you lose.
Consulting with a private attorney before your first hearing allows you to face Virginia criminal charges with an attorney of your choice
When defendants are represented by the public defender then they do not get to choose their attorney. This means that one may be represented by a lawyer even if they do not feel that attorney is a “good fit” for their particular situation. When you retain private counsel you can choose the attorney you feel most comfortable with and who helps you feel the most confident about your case. Garrett Law Group, PLC strives to gain the confidence of clients. Our Virginia criminal attorneys make themselves available to clients twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and understand that you are facing a difficult time. Contact our Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyers today. Other areas we service include Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and other areas in our state.