Criminal defense lawyers protect the rights of individuals charged with crimes. They specialize in providing legal representation and defense throughout the criminal justice process. A criminal defense attorney may handle a variety of cases, from DUI and vehicle offenses to serious felonies such as violent crimes and murder.

When you hire a criminal defense attorney or receive a court-ordered public defender, they work to ensure you receive fair treatment under the law and defend you against criminal charges.

Public Defenders vs. Private Criminal Attorneys

If you are charged with a crime in Fresno, California’s Constitution and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution both guarantee you the right to legal representation. Depending on your financial situation and the nature of your criminal charge, you may qualify for a public defender, or you might have to hire a private criminal attorney at your own expense. Here are the differences between the two.

Public Defender

Public defenders represent individuals charged with a crime who cannot afford a private lawyer. Making public defenders available ensures all defendants receive legal representation. While public defenders have the same qualifications and abilities as private criminal defense attorneys, they typically handle many cases. Therefore, they may not be able to devote as much time and attention to your case as a private criminal defense attorney.

Private Criminal Defense Attorneys

You may want to hire a private criminal attorney to represent you during criminal proceedings. Such attorneys work independently or as part of a law firm. If you work with a private lawyer, you can choose who feels right based on personal preference, experience and reputation. While working with a private attorney generally means they
have more time and resources to devote to your case, their services can come at a cost.

Should You Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case?

No law says you must be represented by a lawyer, meaning you can represent yourself when charged with a crime in California. This is known as “pro se” representation. However, the criminal justice process is complex and tricky to navigate without a lawyer. Self-representation jeopardizes your chances of a good outcome, particularly if you have been charged with a serious crime.

Prosecutors know how to build a strong case against a criminal defendant. Defending yourself against an experienced prosecutor without the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer can be challenging. A criminal conviction can upend your entire life, including your career. Hiring a dedicated criminal defense attorney with courtroom experience and a successful track record can result in a favorable outcome that protects your future.

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Last Update: June 28, 2024

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