Advantages of a Defense Attorney in a Criminal Case
Interviewer: How would you compare someone representing themselves versus getting a public defender versus hiring a private attorney?
Fred Dry: The one major advantage a criminal defense lawyer has is that prosecutors have more cases than time. Private defense lawyers rarely have as many cases as a prosecutor will have. In a misdemeanor court you might have two prosecutors and 100 cases a day every day. The public defender is going to have a fair share of those, but any given defense lawyer isn’t going to have more than a couple, three clients, a day, for whom he has to appear. Big difference in workload.
Public Defenders are Often Overworked and Have a Heavy Caseload
If a public defender has to represent 25 people a day, and as a private defense lawyer, I represent somewhere between one and three people a day, what does that mean in terms of my time to prepare? Public defenders are free lawyers. They can’t do everything, and you never know if the one you have is skillful or not.
What to Look For When Retaining the Services of a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Interviewer: What sort of credentials should they be looking for when they’re interviewing attorneys, going on Google and making comparisons, things of that nature? What are some qualities that they should be looking for, credentials? At the same time, what are some red flags?
Fred Dry: People should look for an attorney who
- Is available to his/her clients;
- Listens to the client’s wishes;
- Will do what is necessary to defend his/her clients;
- Has significant experience;
- Is knowledgeable in the law;
- Will defend both the guilty and innocent equally;
- Charges a fair fee for the required services;
- Is not deterred from the defense by tough prosecutors or judges;
A red flag is a lawyer who says, “I guarantee the outcome” No one can know the outcome with certainty at the time the lawyer is being retained. Litigation is complex and the outcome is always uncertain at the outset. A knowledgeable attorney can talk about possible outcomes and the ways to get there. Anybody who offers a guarantee about the outcome of the case, other than to do the best they know how is purely trying to persuade you to hire them. It’s also unethical. None of the clients who related that they had received “guarantees” could say what would happen if the promised outcome was not delivered.
Another is the flat fee quotation no matter what has to be done. Because the lawyer only has your side of the story when you retain him or her he doesn’t know the prosecutor’s perspective or intentions and therefore cannot know with certainty what he has to do. Because of the possibility that a trial might become necessary, a flat fee must be large enough to cover the amount of time a trial will take. If you end up pleading guilty without trial, you will have paid too high a fee.
Dismissal or Reduction of Charges Depends upon the Circumstances Surrounding the Criminal Case
Interviewer: How often can you get charges dropped, dismissed or reduced so the situation is not so serious?
Fred Dry: Most often dismissals are achieved by thoroughly investigating facts and witnesses, developing a strong defense posture which can be presented for the prosecutor to consider. If the prosecutor is convinced that there is only a small chance to convict, the case will be dismissed. It depends on the circumstances. It depends upon the nature of who’s involved. It depends upon the demands of the victim. Police make the arrest. The court sorts it out.
Aftermath of Resolution in a Criminal Case
Interviewer: What have you seen people do once their case is over to get back on their feet and return to normal life as quickly as possible?
Fred Dry: The most important thing to realize is that you have the ability to avoid having this type of thing happen again. For people who have DUIs they have to resolve in their mind that if they drink they can’t get behind the wheel.
For most people, for most of my clients, even over this long career, most people who commit misdemeanors do it because they lost sight of what was important for a minute or they didn’t think about what was really best for them at the moment. They got angry about something and they just acted impetuously. They’re generally otherwise normally decent people.
In Illinois If you’re in the Back Seat Sleeping it off with the Engine Running, You’re Guilty of DUI
Interviewer: When it comes to being, especially behind the wheel or any sorts of situations that brings out the worst. Ladies turn into vicious animals, you know?
Fred Dry: It’s important for people to know in Illinois that it’s socially responsible if you get in your car and you realize you’ve had one too many and you don’t think you should drive, it’s important not to just climb in the back seat and go to sleep with the motor running, because in Illinois you’re still guilty of DUI.