Free Representation? DWI Charges And Public Defenders

The US Constitution guarantees that anyone arrested has legal representation. In certain circumstances, you might qualify for free representation. A driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge is a serious situation and you will certainly need some form of legal advice to assist you, so read on to find out more.

The Public Defender's Office

For those unable to afford to hire a private attorney, one is offered by the public defender's office. These attorneys may work directly for the county government or they may be private attorneys volunteering their services to the office. Once you are arrested for DWI, you will be brought before a judge and asked about your representation needs. If you are employed and your income is high enough, you might not be able to get free representation. Public defenders only handle cases for those who prove a financial need. In some locations, you must swear under oath that your income is too low to afford a private attorney. You may either be offered free representation or you might be asked to contribute a set fee to the county or state. You have no say in who represents you and many public defenders are in short supply.

Your Case and Public Defenders

If you have a choice, you should carefully consider the exact circumstances of your DWI stop and arrest. If you have a more complicated DWI case, your job is riding on the results of a trial and conviction or you have no interest in accepting a plea bargain, you might be better off using a private attorney. Public defenders usually carry heavy caseloads and are unable to devote much time to cases that may deserve more attention. For example, if you are a first-time DWI offender, you may be offered a plea deal. That means pleading guilty and being sentenced without a trial. This allows you to get on with your life, but it will mean a conviction on your record.

On the other hand, if you have a good case for being found innocent, your public defender won't hesitate to represent you during a trial. For instance, consider the following scenario: You are arrested and charged with DWI. The blood alcohol level was right at the legal limit of .08%, but you aced your field sobriety tests. The state has a weak case and if you are not offered a plea deal you might be found innocent of a DWI at trial.

Being charged with DWI can result in dire punishments that include the loss of driving privileges, jail time, and thousands of dollars in fines and fees. While public defenders do an adequate job, you may need more than just adequate representation. Speak to a private DWI attorney about your case as soon as possible and benefit from the personal attention you deserve.