If you are facing a DUI or other criminal charge in the City of Lacey there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to your defense.
Impartial & Fair Judge
First, on a positive note, this court runs efficiently and the judge is considered very even tempered and fair. This means that when a defense attorney challenges probable cause or files subsequent motions, most defense attorneys find that this court will give fair consideration to defense’s position.
Second, the prosecutor for the City of Lacey is prompt in managing the caseload. This means cases do not tend to drag out for an excessive period, which is a frequent problem in other cities and counties. This means, your defense attorney can have good communication with the prosecutor and negotiations are more timely. For many defendants who are facing consequences to their employment or professional licenses, having a case resolve in an efficient and timely manner is critical.
Issues With Public Defense in Lacey
Third, if you find that you cannot afford to hire a private attorney for your DUI or other criminal charge, be aware that many of the public defense cases in the City of Lacey will be appointed to public defenders who are actually at a private defense firm. This is interesting because the point of private defense is to hire an attorney who has a much smaller caseload and will give your case the heightened attention it needs. It has been reported to us that this firm quotes $5000—$7000 for a DUI. So, if you decide to use the same firm that is contracted for public defense, you may want to make sure your private attorney is not carrying the same caseload as the contracted public defense attorney at the same firm.
Challenges For Lawyers Who Carry Public Defense Cases & Private Cases
In a perfect world, everyone gets the same consideration and attention to their case regardless of whether they can afford to pay for an attorney. Unfortunately, that is really not possible. Many people cannot afford to hire private defense and, at the same time, public defenders are walking away from their jobs. They get paid so little and carry huge caseloads. In fact, in most cities and counties, a privately contracted public defense firm will only receive a few hundreds dollars for each misdemeanor case assigned to them. Unfortunately, there is no way to pay the overhead of a private law firm with that kind of pay. Those who try to do it are forced to also carry private cases so they can pay the bills.
Clearly, there are some ethical challenges with a mix of private and public defense cases. Can the defense attorney give the same attention to a public defense client as a private client? Obviously, the quality of legal services provided should not be based on pay if you are accepting public defense funds. However, based on the complaints we hear, public defense clients do not get their calls returned regularly and their cases tend to last many months longer than private clients. For that reason, some defendants who qualify for a public defender often ask friends or family for assistance with funds so they can get private counsel. Getting out the criminal justice “limbo” is often worth the cost for many people who are accused of a crime.
Public Defense In Washington In Collapse
Public defense is broken in this state and the country. In fact, the head of Washington’s Office of Public Defense asked the Washington Supreme Court to forbid “assigning authorities” (i.e. local offices of public defense) from assigning any additional cases as of January 1, 2024 unless the public defense attorney can establish they are at 60% of current State caseload limits (a maximum number of cases that public defense lawyers are allowed to handle at one time to prevent injustice). In his request to the Washington Supreme Court, he specifically noted that, “Today, I write to express my deep concerns for the state of our criminal public defense system, which is now facing a grave crisis.” (Memorandum to The Justices of the Washington State Supreme Court, dated November 27, 2023) So far, the requested moratorium on assigning new cases has not happened and likely won’t. Therefore, public defenders will continue to be overworked and carry caseloads that are too burdensome.
If you are facing a criminal charge and are interested in hiring a private defense attorney, we are here 7 days a week. Do not delay in seeking counsel about your options. We have had many clients find that the advice and attention of our attorneys has saved them more than their legal fees. When your job and driving privilege are on the line, don’t risk it. 360-792-1000