Living in this area of the country is a true blessing. We live in one of the, if not the, most beautiful areas of the United States or the world. Plus, we have access to some of the best wines and restaurants in the world. However, we are not immune to the trials and tribulations of everyday life, which includes facing accusations and criminal charges, regardless of whether we actually did anything wrong. Naturally, when we face criminal charges, one of the first questions is, how do I pick a defense attorney?
Private vs. public defender
Unless you have a lawyer on retainer or a lawyer friend or family member, the lawyer who got you out of jail was likely a public defender. And, you may be tempted to keep them as your lawyer. However, remember, their time and resources are limited by their budget and the number of clients assigned to them. This means they may or may not have the resources to similarly defend you as a private Napa or Sonoma county attorney.
Paying your public defender
Whether the charges you face are federal- or state-law based, you are entitled to a public defender. However, unless you are truly indigent, you will eventually need to pay for that representation in California.
Upfront, there is a $25 fee paid to the Napa or Sonoma county. Then, at the end of your case, if the judge appointed your counsel (Public Defender’s Office), there will likely be a fee hearing. During that hearing, the judge performs an analysis of your income, assets and expenses, and then, based on this information, the judge can order you to pay your attorney. The exact amount is up to the judge, but it is determined by your financial situation and the level of legal services provided.
If you are concerned about legal fees and your ability to pay legal fees, speak with the public defender to get an idea of potential costs and whether you may be required to pay. If you are facing paying anyway, you may as well get the best bang for your buck with a private attorney who can devote their time and resources to you.
How do I pick a Sonoma or Napa County defense attorney?
Now that you have decided to research your Sonoma and Napa County defense attorney options, the next question is how to pick one. The choice really comes down to local experience in the court where you will face the charges and successful experience with the local charges you face. This local experience will ensure they know how to navigate the system for your benefit and how to best defend you based on local practice.