Private Attorneys or Public Defenders: Which Is the Better Option to Defend a Drug-Related Charge?

Interviewer: Going back to defense options, what would be one of the advantages, especially in drug cases, of hiring an attorney over utilizing a public defender?

Public Defenders Carry Heavy Caseloads

Brett Hollett: There are a lot of good public defenders out there but those public defenders are also handling a lot of cases. Depending on the complexities of an individual’s case it may require a great deal of time to mount a successful defense. A public defender just may not have the time to be able to devote the necessary work that particular case requires.

The Defense for Some Drug-Related Cases May Take Time to Craft and a Private Attorney Has More Time and Resources to Devote to a Case

When somebody hires an attorney they should ask that attorney questions about their caseload, and about their experience to ensure that they get the attention that they deserve and they need. A client will want to know that their case is getting the attention they demand.

They will want to make sure the attorney is able to review all of the discovery, interview witnesses and make sure no stone goes unturned. This will help the client as well as the attorney make an informed decision on how to proceed with the case. Without this initial time commitment, the client won’t know what option has the best likelihood of success.

Get your questions answered - call us for your free, 20 min phone consultation (205) 871-9990

What Is the Typical Process Following an Arrest for a Drug-Related Charge?

Interviewer: After an arrest for a drug-related charge, what’s the process like for most people once they contact you? What are you going to help guide them through?

The Attorney Files a Notice of Appearance and Requests a Preliminary Hearing and Discovery

Brett Hollett: If they contacted us they’ve been arrested and they bonded out and they decide to hire us. We would first file a notice of appearance for them with the court. We’d also file a request for preliminary hearing as well as discovery motion. In the discovery motion, we ask for specific things from the state or from the city that they have in their possession that they would use to try to prove their case.

Discovery Includes All Evidence the State Is Going to Use in the Prosecution of the Case

We’d eventually be provided that discovery and that may include incident offense reports written by the police officer who made the arrest. It may include video evidence if the stop was videotaped. It may include booking videos, if the booking room or the jail had video recording capabilities.

It may also include statements by different witnesses or statements by co-defendants. It can include many different things. We’d look at that discovery and may go over it with the client and talk to them about it. We will talk to them about what happened and go over all the events and then formulate a strategy on how we’d move forward at the preliminary hearing.

What Are You Likely to Experience after an Arrest for a Drug-Related Charge?

Interviewer: Typically what is the client’s state of mind when you meet with them? What are their immediate needs and what is their emotional state when you first meet with them?

It Is Common to Experience Fear and Apprehension after an Arrest

Brett Hollett: Typically, right away they’re very anxious, very nervous and scared. They’re worried about how this charge may affect their job. They’re worried about how it may affect their schooling and their future employment options. As I mentioned, a felony conviction on your record is a very serious thing and it can preclude a lot of people from getting hired in the future.

How Will This Arrest Affect My Employment Opportunities?

There can be long-term effects even if the charge is only for a drug offense. The job market’s pretty tough these days and employers may just pass over that applicant because in fact they have a felony arrest or worse, a felony conviction on their record. We try to handle those things with care and try to avoid a conviction on their permanent record.

Will an Arrest for a Drug-Related Be Public Information?

Interviewer: If I were to get arrested for a drug charge, how public is the arrest going to be? Who’s going to find out about it?

Brett Hollett: It just depends. All court records are public records so it just depends on who wants to look for it or if they’re going to look for it. You don’t have to disclose anything if you’re employed unless your employer has some rule that’s in your employee handbook that requires you to do so.

The Charge Will Appear on a Background Check

Anytime you submit a job application, most companies are going to do a background check on you. The background check would list any convictions or pending arrests. In certain cases if you’re a high-profile client, if you’re the CEO of a company or a celebrity, the newspaper or other media outlets may get ahold of an arrest record or conviction and publish it. It’s public record.

Get your questions answered - call us for your free, 20 min phone consultation (205) 871-9990