A recent report from the American Bar Association illustrates the importance of hiring the right attorney to defend a criminal charge. In that report, the main issue revealed is the lack of funding for many public defenders all across the country, and what they are doing to address it. These issues have been swirling about for many years, but are just now coming to a head.
One of the first steps that happens in any criminal case is the appointment of a defense attorney for the person accused of a crime. In many cases, the defendant will hire an attorney, but when the accused cannot afford an attorney, one is appointed by the state. This attorney usually comes from a public defender’s office, and is provided at no charge.
Gideon v. Wainwright
This benefit to indigent defendants comes from the U.S. Constitution. As most people know, one of the rights read to a defendant after being arrested is the right to an attorney. This right was not always recognized by the government. In fact, it did not become the law of the entire land until about 50 years ago.
In the landmark Supreme Court ruling of Gideon v. Wainwright, the court was tasked with resolving whether a poor defendant accused and convicted of a felony in Florida should have been appointed an attorney. At the time only poor defendants facing capital crimes were given attorneys. But the court’s ruling changed that standard, and established a new one.
Under the court’s ruling in Gideon, it was a requirement for everyone accused of a felony to have an attorney. The ruling from the court did not come with any money, and the states were left to fund the new mandate. Since then states have different systems for funding public defenders, but each has its own challenges, and nearly all are strapped for adequate resources.
Public Defenders Fighting for Funds
Because of the low funding and high number of cases, many public defense offices are suing to get funds to pay for the defense of the indigent. This has led to victories with different courts ordering more resources to those offices, but much is left over that needs to be resolved. Because the fight is taking place in the courts, it will be a long time before (if ever) it gets resolved.
The takeaway of this case for someone facing a DWI charge is simple. It matters who your attorney is is going to be. There are many issues that can affect how your attorney defends your case. Like public defenders, there are many private attorneys who have too many cases on their dockets and who dedicate too few resources to the defense of their clients. In some cases, an attorney just does not have the experience or ability needed to properly defend a case.
As you consider who you will hire to be your attorney, take time to think about these issues. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm our name says it all, and you can rest assured that we have the experience, resources, and ability to aggressively defend your DWI. Contact us today.