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Do You Need To Hire A Criminal Lawyer For Your Arraignment Or Bail Hearing?
After an arrest, if not given a Desk Appearance Ticket, a criminal defendant will appear before a judge to determine the amount of bail or whether the defendant should be held in jail without bail. This can be done at a bail hearing or combined with an arraignment where a formal reading of the charges is made.
The judge will usually release a defendant on bail and set the amount of bail which must be posted. The judge will also decide if the bail must be posted in cash or if the defendant will be allowed to post a bail bond.
Most criminal defendants who retain a private criminal lawyer, will use the public defender to represent them at the bail hearing/arraignment. Should you take advantage of free representation provided by the public defender, when it may cost you a few hundred dollars for a private lawyer to represent you?
Each case is different and it is not possible here to provide advice as to what to do. In fact, legal advice for your specific case can only be provided by a lawyer licensed in your state and only after consulting with you directly. However, generally if a criminal defendant has a prior criminal history or if the charges are a serious misdemeanor or felony it may be worth calling a private criminal lawyer to represent you at the bail hearing.
An experienced criminal lawyer knows what information to ask a client and what needs to be presented to the judge to have their client released ROR (without bail) or with an affordable bail. The public defender is a licensed attorney who is charged with zealously representing the defendant and since the public defender represents many defendants at bail hearings everyday, it can be said that the public defender is very experienced.
So, what's the difference between a public defender and hiring your own criminal lawyer? Time and attention. The public defender represents many defendants at the same time, while a privately retained criminal lawyer is concentrating on you. With many defendants to represent, the public defender simply does not have the same amount time available for personal attention as a private lawyer will have.
How much time is necessary? In only 15-30 minutes, a private lawyer can obtain enough information from you and family members, if present, to provide the judge with a picture of you in the best light. Unfortunately, the public defender usually cannot afford to spend that much time with every defendant.
What is the difference in the end result? There may be no difference. However, the additional time and attention that a private lawyer can provide may result in a defendant being released “ROR” (without bail) or with a substantially lower bail. A lower bail bond can be the difference between immediate release or staying in jail for a few days or longer and a higher cost for the bond. The savings on the cost of a lower bond can be greater than the cost of a private lawyer at your bail hearing.
Additionally, because of the additional time a private criminal lawyer can spend to obtain information, a private lawyer may be better able to obtain more favorable conditions of release.
If you have a prior criminal history, have been arrested for a serious misdemeanor or felony, will simply feel more comfortable knowing that you have the undivided attention of your own criminal lawyer, or will be retaining a private lawyer later, consider retaining a private criminal lawyer to represent you at your bail hearing/arraignment.
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