All criminal defendants are entitled to a competent defense. The federal government and each state provide legal counsel for those who are indigent and cannot afford their own private Hampton DUI Lawyer. However, this service is offered in a variety of ways depending upon the state or jurisdiction. Large metropolitan areas are more likely to have a public defender’s office to serve the high volume of criminal cases. In sparsely populated rural areas where it is not cost-effective to have full-time public defenders, there are other ways of covering this requirement. There are four primary indigent defense systems: the public defender’s office, contract systems, assigned counsel programs, and pro bono publico.
Public Defenders Office
Many jurisdictions elect or appoint public defenders. The state or county gives the public defender a budget and assigns him or her to provide legal defense for indigent defendants. The public defender then hires assistant public defenders that are the workhorses of the agency and defend most of the cases. The main public defender may occasionally represent a high- profile client. Usually, these cases are somewhat sensational, such as having a celebrity victim or defendant, or it may be a death penalty case.
The public defender’s office, depending upon size, will have several divisions that specialize in certain types of criminal offenses. The public defender’s office is divided into the following divisions: appellate, mental health, county court, felony, investigations, intake, and juvenile, major crimes, and social services. This allows the assistant public defenders to specialize in specific types of cases. For instance, the juvenile division works with the juvenile court and represents all juveniles in the jurisdiction who are accused of status offenses or delinquency and whose parents are indigent. Additionally, the division handles the first appearance of some clients, which is the first court hearing before a judge and is required by law to take place within 24 hours of arrest. The intake division represents clients at first appearance who are charged with misdemeanors or traffic offenses and misdemeanor and felony arraignments for clients in custody. Working as an assistant public defender can provide a Hampton DUI Lawyer with a wealth of experience in the criminal law. This experience can later be translated into private practice where the attorney may make a lot more money. Consequently, public-defender offices have a high turnover rate as the large caseloads turn young, inexperienced attorneys into experienced attorneys.