Interviewer: You were a public defender for a year. What was that experience like?
Mark: As a public defender, you see a lot of cases. That’s great from an experience standpoint. That one year was good because I learned to look very quickly at a case and evaluate the pros and cons. On the other hand, you don’t get to put individual time into a case to determine if the state has presented evidence in the best way. In private practice the last seven years, I deal more with the DMV.
Being in private practice enables me to look much closer at each individual case and work on it at an earlier stage. Early in the proceeding, I focus on outworking the district attorney to get a favorable resolution or get a case dismissed. This helps because later in the process the DA has had more opportunity to look at the case.
Interviewer: What are the pros and cons of having a public defender versus a private attorney?
Mark: In the first ten days of being arrested you need to contact the DMV or have an attorney contact the DMV to set up a hearing. The public defender does not deal with that at all. Most of the time they’re not even assigned to you until after that ten day period has passed.
Your license would automatically be suspended if you didn’t do anything after 30 days. The first advantage to hiring an attorney, versus having a public defender, is that private attorneys deal with the DMV. That’s the most important aspect of it.
When I was a public defender I was handling 50 to 100 DUIs a week. It’s very hard to send out all the right motions and evaluate all the potential lines of defense when you have that many cases. Quite frankly, you get a little jaded as a public defender.
You have so much work to do that you start doing the minimum competency and taking the first deal that’s offered. You think, “That’s a reasonable deal.” Instead you should think, “How can I get a better deal for my client?” That’s where hiring a private attorney can be of great value to somebody with a DUI.
© 2012 by Mark J. Bigger . All rights reserved.