Am I Required To Stay With My Public Defender?

No. In fact, if you are waiting to be assigned a public defender, you are wasting valuable time. The time between arrest and Arraignment is when we get the most important things done on a case. If you hire Ryan Witt, he will have a “to do” list for you within 24 hours so you can be proactive on resolving your case.

My paperwork and the judge said I had to “report to my public defender.” I don’t want to violate the court’s direction.

Sometimes, the judge uses legal speak and it can be confusing to those who have never been in trouble. Yes, “report” sounds pretty stern. However, the judge is simply stating that it is YOUR job to go to your public defender and set up an appointment for a meeting (you may also need to prove you are indigent and qualify for public defense). 

Basically, the judge wants to impart to you that it is your responsibility at that point. You are getting an attorney at tax payer expense but that does not mean you are entitled to have someone manage your schedule and wait on you to get to the office.

If you use public defense, do not plan to have appointments set up for you. Do not plan on getting phone calls about upcoming court dates. Do not plan on reminders. Do not plan on notice that you are supposed to file your hearing request within 7 days. 

If you hire private defense and the above things do not happen, you should fire them. Every Witt Law Group client gets an email with the zoom link for court, a phone and email reminder, and usually a call from the lawyer the night before if we haven’t heard from you.

What if I waited to get an attorney appointed at my Arraignment?

If your case status is post-Arraignment, don’t worry. Private defense can still do a lot to make your case resolve in a positive way. In fact, on a DUI in Washington, as long as you hire private defense within 7 days of the arrest, you can still have your lawyer help you file the DOL hearing request so you don’t get your license suspended without responding to the administrative action. Your public defender does not do this because the DOL is a civil matter and public defenders handle only the criminal case.

Once someone hires us for criminal defense, we take over everything. If the client already sent in the DOL hearing request, we contact DOL to notify them that all correspondence should be sent to our office, including discovery and notice of the hearing date. We also file our Notice of Appearance so the court and prosecutor know that the defendant has new legal counsel.

In a few situations, we have to notify the public defender’s office of our substitution and substitution of counsel paperwork is filed. However, in most cases, the simple Notice of Appearance will suffice. And, in all cases, this is OUR job and not our client.

Remember, you have a right to counsel and that counsel, assuming you can afford it, can be anyone you choose. There are rare circumstances in which a trial has already begun in which substitution of counsel may not be permitted but that is a highly unusual circumstance and is handled on a case by case basis. 

If you are facing a criminal charge in Kitsap County, Washington or the surrounding cities and need guidance on hiring a private attorney to handle your case, please give our office a call. We are here 7 days a week. 360-792-1000