All defendants need lawyers, appointed or otherwise, even though most criminal cases settle out of court. Many defendants reason that because they negotiated an auto purchase on their own, they can also negotiate a plea bargain on their own. However, there’s a big difference between your money and your liberty. Therefore, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in criminal cases.[1]

When the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer, they usually do good jobs, especially if the offense was a “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” infraction. These defendants can generally comply with probation conditions, including staying out of trouble for extended periods. However, as a rule of thumb, defendants shouldn’t say yes immediately when the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer. If they do, they meet their lawyers for the first time after the judge has signed the paperwork. So, they don’t know if the lawyer has the qualities necessary to be an excellent criminal defense lawyer.

For this reason alone, a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer is a much better option. Furthermore, the picture of the overworked court-appointed criminal defense lawyer is partially accurate. Court reimbursement fees might be as little as $100 for a misdemeanor plea. At that rate, when the courts appoint a criminal defense lawyer to a case, the lawyer has no incentive to investigate it or even negotiate with the prosecutor. Instead, the lawyer takes the first offer. That’s probably just as well, as many new public defenders don’t know how to defend cases properly. Unless your case checks all the boxes in this post, use some extra time and money and hire a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer.

Early Jail Release

As a lawyer, if the defendant is out of jail, time is on your side. In bond cases, the trial date is usually at least a year after the arrest date. The evidence has degraded by then, and better plea bargain offers are available. Even an inexperienced lawyer can catch a fish if it jumps into the net.

Jail cases require additional work. Attorneys must quickly and thoroughly prepare cases to get the best plea bargain offers. Court-appointed lawyers often lack these skills.

Furthermore, jail cases often require more court appearances, such as a bond reduction hearing. Court-appointed lawyers get paid flat fees. The more time they invest, the less money they make.

Nonviolent Misdemeanor

Court-appointed lawyers can handle these cases because possible punishments are light for the most part. Drug possession is a good example. Today, many lawmakers view drug possession as a health and safety matter, not a criminal law matter. Therefore, many cases that were felonies are now misdemeanors. Many former misdemeanors are now basically traffic tickets, if that.

Violent misdemeanors include assault, DUI, stalking, and everything else, except property crimes and the aforementioned drug possession crimes. These offenses have high penalties, including high fines and long jail sentences. Defendants should choose their own Rochester criminal defense lawyers in these cases. They shouldn’t use a lawyer whose name a judge drew from a hat.

Furthermore, the collateral consequences of violent crimes are significant. Most violent misdemeanors are CIMTs (crimes involving moral turpitude). CIMTs have long-lasting and usually permanent consequences in the legal system and everyday life. There’s no guarantee a private Rochester criminal defense lawyer can reduce or eliminate these consequences. But a personal lawyer has a much better chance than a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer.

Comfortable with Long Term, Strict Probation

Most states have hard probation caps. Usually, the probation cannot exceed two times the offered jail sentence (e.g., 90 days in jail or 180 days on probation). New York doesn’t have a hard cap. Therefore, probation sentences are much longer in the Empire State than in most neighboring states.

Long periods of probation make it challenging to adhere to all court-ordered conditions of probation. These conditions include:

  • Remaining in the county at all times
  • Staying current on child support and alimony payments
  • Working and/or attending school full-time
  • Avoiding disreputable people and places, like people with criminal records and bars
  • Performing community service
  • Drug treatment, anger management, or other professional counseling
  • Avoiding all trouble with the law

As mentioned, court-appointed lawyers typically take the first offer. Private Rochester criminal defense lawyers negotiate with prosecutors to ease the length and/or conditions of probation. Furthermore, attorneys can file subsequent motions to modify or discharge probation.

No Criminal Record

We mentioned “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” offenses above. These individuals usually want to avoid further trouble and, if possible, clear their permanent records. So, they have a powerful incentive to toe the line. If a court-appointed lawyer doesn’t negotiate a favorable deal, these defendants nevertheless abide by its terms.

People with criminal records, even an old conviction or a conviction from another state, don’t see things the same way. Their permanent record is already tarnished, so they have little incentive to comply with probation terms. In these cases, since the defendant has a criminal record when the hammer falls, it falls much harder.

So, if you have a criminal record, you need the shortest and most lenient probation possible. That’s a tall order. Many prosecutors double or triple the offered sentence if the defendant has been in trouble before. It would be best if you had a good negotiator as well. Many prosecutors are convinced these people are “bad eggs” who don’t deserve second chances.

Connect With a Thorough Attorney

Typically, your liberty is too valuable to place in the hands of a court-appointed criminal defense lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Rochester, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.




The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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