Your Right to Representation: A Court-Appointed vs. A Private Criminal Defense Attorney

You have the right to a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey

If you or a loved one find yourself in the unfortunate position of being accused of a crime, the most important thing you can do is to secure a criminal defense attorney. As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to an attorney as outlined in the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. 

As originally written, this constitutional amendment gave the right to an attorney to defendants in federal prosecutions. Nearly 150 years later, in 1963, the Sixth Amendment was applied to felony offenses at the state level. 

Additionally, this amendment was designed to protect criminal defendants by guaranteeing them the right to a public, speedy trial, the right to an impartial jury of your peers, the right to understand the evidence and charges against you, and the right to confront your accuser in a court of law.

You and your loved ones deserve a criminal defense attorney who is going to strive to protect and uphold your constitutional right to a fair trial by providing the most detailed, confident, and effective legal defense possible. 

You have the right to an effective criminal defense attorney

Not only do you have the right to legal counsel in the United States as a criminal defendant, but you are also guaranteed the right to effective legal counsel. 

Not to be misinterpreted, “effective” is not synonymous with “winning” your criminal case in this context. “Effectiveness” can pertain to a counselor’s performance before, during, or after a legal decision is made for your case. 

If you feel you’re receiving ineffective counsel before or during your criminal trial, you must plead your case to the judge at a special hearing, where only you (the defendant), the judge, and your lawyer are present. If you’ve effectively proven your lawyer’s ineffectiveness, you may hire new counsel if you’ve garnered private representation, or you’ll be awarded a new court-appointed attorney. Understand that this tactic does not guarantee they’ll be granted more time to prepare for your case. 

In order to have a conviction overturned, the convicted must prove that their legal counsel’s performance falls below what’s defined as an “objective standard of reasonableness” and that there is “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” 

As you can assume, overturning a conviction isn’t easy, and pursuing this as a legal tactic requires effective legal counsel on your side to help you, so if you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime due to ineffective counsel then it’s essential to have proven, effective criminal defense attorneys on your side that have a proven track record of winning cases in a court of law. 

What’s the difference between a court-appointed and private criminal defense attorney?

In the instance that someone accused of a crime is not able to afford to hire their own criminal defense attorney, they are provided a court-appointed criminal defense attorney to represent them. Typically, court-appointed criminal defense attorneys work for the public defender’s office, or in some instances, local private attorneys that have been approved by the court will cover these sorts of cases. 

One shouldn’t assume that just because an attorney is court-appointed, that their abilities as attorneys are sub-par. Court-appointed attorneys usually have a great deal of experience navigating criminal trials and might even have relationships or awareness of local judges and prosecutors. They’re committed to the rule of law and the best possible outcomes for their clients just like any other defense attorney. 

However, court-appointed attorneys don’t have the same ability to be selective about their cases or caseloads as private attorneys do. It’s not unusual for court-appointed attorneys to be juggling several caseloads at once, which can have an effect on a defendant’s outcome.

In January of 2019, The New York Times ran a story based on an American Bar Association study that highlights a Louisiana court-appointed attorney who was juggling 194 felony cases — 113 formally charged equalling an estimated two years’ worth of cases — at a single time. The story goes on to say that this caseload was “not outside the norm.”

We applaud the efforts of public defenders and believe they deserve as much time to focus on their cases as much as their clients’ cases deserve to be focused upon. But their time with you is limited, and, as a criminal defendant, you do not have the freedom to choose your attorney. They’re chosen for you, and you get whatever time and attention they’re able to give you. When you’re facing felony criminal charges, your case deserves all the attention you can get. And that’s exactly what we at the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot delivers.

Our team of private criminal defense attorneys provide a different level of focus to their cases than court-appointed peers are able to. They have the time and resources to get to know you, your case, and craft the best possible criminal defense of your case. 

We can begin building your defense right away, and provide you access to a more comprehensive legal defense strategy, based on the resources at hand. You and your loved ones deserve the peace of mind that your defense team is leaving no stone unturned to protect your freedom. 

If you are under investigation or have been charged with any white collar crime in New Jersey, including those that pertain to a false accusation, criminal defense attorney Robert J. DeGroot is ready to meet with you. For a free initial consultation, call 866-970-0783 or contact our Newark law firm online.

If you are incarcerated, our criminal law attorney can meet with you in jail. Reach out today, because we’re here to help!