12 Aug What is a court appointed criminal attorney?
If you are charged with a crime that carries the possibility of a jail or prison sentence, then you are entitled to be represented by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you. Whether you qualify for a court appointed attorney will depend on various factors, such as your income, the number of people you support, any property that you own or savings you hold, etc…
Generally a court appointed criminal attorney will fall into one of two categories: public defenders and private practitioners. Some jurisdictions have public defender’s offices that serve as criminal defense attorneys in that jurisdiction. The public defenders are government employees who solely practice criminal law.
Many jurisdictions do not have a public defender’s office and therefore the court assembles a list of local practicing attorneys who will perform court appointed criminal defense work. These attorneys are drawn from private practice and often engage in other areas of law aside from criminal defense.
Court appointed defense attorneys, whether members of a public defender’s office or the private practice sector, often have a great deal of experience in criminal law as well as knowledge of the practices and procedures in the jurisdictions where they practice. These attorneys often practice in front of the same judges and interact with the same prosecutors and police officers.
Court appointed defense attorneys are bound by the same ethical rules as retained attorneys. They have the same duties and responsibilities to their clients.
Court appointed criminal attorneys can be a very valuable resource in guiding you through the criminal justice process. However, these attorneys cannot help you if you do not contact them to discuss your case. If you have been charged with a crime and received a court appointed attorney, you should contact that attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Provide that attorney with any information, evidence and witnesses you may have so that attorney can assist in your defense. Your court appointed attorney cannot make you any guarantees on the outcome of your case, however, that attorney will be in a much better position to defend you if you provide him or her with honest information about your case.
– Richmond, Virginia Attorney Colin Drabert