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Ineffective Representation Can Have Serious Consequences

Savage law Feb. 8, 2022

justice and law conceptThe Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees persons being criminally prosecuted to a “speedy and public trial'' and to “the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” Accordingly, those charged with crimes in the United States are offered representation by a public defender.

No matter how well-intentioned or well-educated they are, however, public defenders often face overwhelming caseloads. In other words, they are assigned so many cases that they can rarely spend enough time with each defendant to formulate a solid defense strategy. Quite often, they just accept the first plea bargain available rather than have to prepare for and face a lengthy courtroom contest.

While a plea bargain may ultimately prove to be a good option, it shuts the door on other strategies that may result in charges being dropped, the case being dismissed, or a ‘not guilty’ verdict being rendered.

When facing a criminal charge, you’re going to want the best available representation you can find to explore all your options and to challenge police and prosecutor tactics that may have resulted in an abuse of your rights. You also want someone who can challenge evidence and witnesses, as well as work with prosecutors pre-trial to make your side of the story clear.

If you’ve been criminally charged or are under investigation in or around Providence, Rhode Island, or anywhere in the state, contact the Savage law. Criminal defense attorney Layne C. Savage will discuss your situation with you, investigate, assess your options, and advise you of the optimal legal path forward to obtain the best possible result. At all times, she will protect your rights under the Constitution and laws of the state.

Private Attorney vs. Public Defender

The pitfalls of relying on a public defender can be many and varied, as alluded to above. While most public defenders are well-meaning and dependable, they still face a heavy caseload, and some simply let details and responsibilities slip by to their client’s detriment.

It should also be noted that though the Sixth Amendment guarantees representation, this representation is not always free. Depending on your income, you may be charged for the representation.

If you have to pay for a public defender, you should carefully consider contacting a private defense attorney who can devote full time to your case. Even if the public defender service is free, there are significant benefits from having a dedicated defense attorney unfettered by a dozen other cases.

If you do end up relying on a public defender, here are some telltale signs that you might be getting ineffective representation:

  • Your public defender makes serious mistakes regarding legal arguments or procedures.

  • Your public defender makes major decisions about your case without consulting you.

  • Your public defender misses filing, meeting, or court deadlines.

  • Your public defender fails to respond when you try to communicate.

  • Your public defender acts unprofessionally.

If you wish to change your public defender, you usually need to submit a written request to the court or the judge and maybe the public defender’s office itself. The cost of relying on an ineffective or distracted public defender can be pretty high in terms of the outcome of your case.

In contrast, a private attorney can meet with prosecutors even before charges are filed and explain your side of the story. The result may be a lesser charge, or in some cases, even a dismissal of charges. A public defender, being overworked, usually waits until the charges are filed and then opts for the first available plea bargain.

A private defense attorney will also work with you personally to develop a solid strategy to challenge all evidence and witnesses and point out police or prosecutorial mistakes or abuses that may be jeopardizing your case and your rights.

Qualities of an Effective Defense Attorney

An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge everything from your arrest (was there probable cause?) to the evidence presented against you (was it legally obtained or tainted by questionable investigative tactics?).

Another quality attribute is that your attorney will represent you throughout the process beginning with arrest, provided you avail yourself of the opportunity to be represented during police questioning (a big plus). From there, the other stages are booking, arraignment, bail hearing, discovery phase, pre-trial motions and hearing, trial, and appeals.

You and your attorney should also be able to develop a personal connection so that the two of you become like partners. Finally, a good defense attorney will explain everything to you in everyday terms and won’t make decisions without your full consent. You don’t need an attorney suddenly announcing: “Okay, we’ve reached a plea bargain. Sign here.” You should be consulted every step of the way.

Getting the Experienced Legal Guidance You Deserve

A criminal conviction, even if it results just in probation, can have lifelong consequences. Your record will go with you throughout your life, jeopardizing your chances to get the job of your dreams or obtain the professional licensing you need to pursue your chosen career. A felony conviction can have even more serious consequences, including losing the rights to vote and own firearms.

There’s no guarantee you can get off a criminal charge, but you can increase your odds of a better result with the assistance and guidance of experienced legal counsel.

If you’re under investigation or facing criminal charges in or around Providence or anywhere in Rhode Island, contact the Savage law immediately. She will stand by your side to press your case and aim for the best possible outcome.

The Savage law also represents clients in neighboring Boston, Massachusetts, and surrounding communities.