Court-Appointed Attorney vs. Retained Defense Lawyer

What is the difference between a court-appointed lawyer and a hired lawyer? The impact of inferior legal representation can be life-altering in a tragic way.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

Court-Appointed Lawyers Have a Poor Reputation. Why?

Many people have the impression that court-appointed attorneys are not effective and that they don’t care much about their clients. The fact is that there are many very good court-appointed attorneys, and how they handle a case does not reflect whether they care about the client. Most attorneys care about their reputations and want to do a good job for their clients. On the other hand, many court-appointed lawyers do not zealously or effectively protect and defend their clients. The biggest problem with getting a court-appointed lawyer is that you cannot choose your lawyer and it’s up to the luck of the draw who you get.

In many cases, court-appointed attorneys may want to do a better job on their cases, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to do the best that is possible for their clients. Court-appointed attorneys make as much as 10 times less than a retained attorney; sometimes even less than that. Courts are not always willing to allow court-appointed expenses for certain defense needs such as hiring investigators, analyzing evidence, writing and arguing motions, and consulting with the clients. If expenses are allowed, they are usually very menial, which often leads to a deficient defense. In Oakland County, for example, court-appointed lawyers do not get paid for motions. This forces the lawyer to choose between providing an adequate defense and being forced to volunteer their time.

A hired lawyer, also known as a retained lawyer, is someone you personally chose and pay privately. With a retained attorney, you pick the right lawyer for you considering any budgetary limitations. A retained attorney typically has more resources and time to spend on a client’s case than a court-appointed lawyer. If you privately retain an attorney, you can make sure you pick someone who is experienced, effective, has a good reputation and has good chemistry with the client.

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What if I Can’t Afford a Hired Lawyer?

The issue, of course, is can you afford a retained attorney? When some clients hear the price of a top-rated, successful retained defense attorney, a court-appointed attorney starts to sound attractive. What they lose sight of at that moment is that the decision they make as to whether to retain a top-rated defense attorney will affect the rest of their lives. Whatever the expense, it is almost always worth it. In many cases, despite their reluctance and perhaps embarrassment, people charged with a crime must ask relatives or friends for help with a retainer fee, or they may have to sell something they own. This is painful, and that is understood. But if you had no insurance and needed heart surgery, would you find the money or would you go with the lowest-priced heart surgeon you could find? There is no shame in asking for help to save your life. You do not want to trust your life, future, and livelihood to the lowest bidder.

Do I Have to Get the Best Attorney Available or is a Lesser-Priced Hired Lawyer the Answer?

The worst possible combination in hiring an attorney is retaining a bargain-priced attorney. You usually pay far more than a court-appointed attorney and do not get any appreciable increase in talent or effort. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Would you pay money to stay out of jail, keep your home and family, and keep your job? Everyone would. There are times to avail yourself of a sale, such as when you buy a car or furniture. Availing yourself of a “sale” price when hiring an attorney could cost you everything you hold dear. On the other hand, paying an astronomical fee to a lawyer is likely wasteful and unnecessary. A great lawyer should charge a reasonable and fair price for legal representation.

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So, What Firm Is the One You Should Hire for the BEST Possible Results?

The dedicated, experienced, and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Southeastern Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form for a free consultation. Give us a chance to show you how we can help.

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