A criminal defense lawyer represents individuals or organizations accused of crimes such as fraud, assault, DUI or murder. Their primary goal is to ensure fair treatment and strive for a just outcome for their clients, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If a defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the court appoints one.

Criminal defense lawyers meticulously review the evidence against their clients, identifying errors or procedural issues that could strengthen the defense. They also engage in discussions with prosecutors and may negotiate plea deals. They provide advice through the process and help their clients make informed decisions.

Public Defenders vs. Private Criminal Attorneys

Kansas courts will appoint a public defender to a defendant who cannot afford to pay a private lawyer for defense in a felony charge case. This appointment is not available for misdemeanor charges.

Public defenders are provided by the Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS). Lawyers appointed by BIDS are sometimes private lawyers who have agreed to take on cases through the agency. While some public defenders are highly skilled, they are often burdened with high caseloads and limited support. Note that private lawyers assigned by BIDS are not directly supervised by BIDS in their work.

If you are able to hire a private lawyer to defend you, it is likely that they will have more time and resources to devote to your case.

Should You Represent Yourself In a Criminal Case?

You have the option to represent yourself in a criminal case. When you choose that option you are referred to as a “pro se litigant.”

Before you decide, consider what a mistake may cost you. It is unlikely that you are familiar with the details of the criminal laws and courtroom proceedings that you will need to navigate. If the stakes are low, such as for a minor traffic infraction, then you might decide that the money you save on lawyer fees is worth the risk of fines if you lose. However, if you are facing more serious allegations, then hiring a lawyer could help you avoid or limit jail time and a criminal record.

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Last Update: July 3, 2024