Is a Public Defender Good For a DUI Charge?

Updated on 08/09/2023 / Under

When it comes to criminal cases, state and federal law allow defendants to be granted the help of a counsel. Driving under the influence cases (or DUI) is a crime, meaning that if you are accused of DUI you will have the right to an attorney. According to the federal and state law of Illinois, if you can't afford to hire one yourself, the court will appoint a public defender, which is an attorney at the expense of the government. The word used to describe a defendant who is not able to afford a lawyer is indigent.

What Is A Public Defender?

You might not know this but many lawyers do start their career as public defenders. Contrary to popular belief, public defenders are licensed attorneys. However, the reality is that hiring a private attorney will get you higher chances of winning your case or of having it archived. The bad news is that hiring a private attorney can be rather expensive, even if you are only on your first offense. This is why public defenders are often an attractive option.

DUI attorney Alex Ktenas

When choosing to make use of a public defender, you need to be aware that you won't be able to choose who will represent you for your case. A public defender is appointed by the judge of your case if you fall under the category of "indigent". A public defender is generally assigned in the courtroom at your first appearance before a judge, after having determined that the case will be heard.

Can I Get A Public Defender For A DUI Case?

The simple answer to this question is yes, you can be appointed a free attorney for a case of driving under the influence. But the real question to be asking is whether you should do so or not. First of all, with any attorney you decide to hire, you should make sure they are knowledgeable enough about the law concerning your specific case. A good lawyer should be someone you selected weighing the pros and cons of him or her help you.

People classified as indigent will automatically be assigned a public defender to represent them in court. However, there are many stereotypes associated with public defenders who generally have a bad reputation.

Cook County Public Defender website

If you are considering your chances of winning a serious criminal case like it is the case of driving under the influence, you should try to hire an attorney who you can trust. Just think about it. When did you ever hear of anyone winning a criminal case with free legal defense? Chances are very few times if not none.

Luckily, there is a better option for free legal aid, especially for cases such as DUIs. We are talking about pro bono lawyers, who can offer you a great defense, even if you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer. Indeed, most of the stereotypes about free legal defense are untrue. Let's dig deeper into the figure of a public defender to learn why.

Am I Eligible To Get Appointed A Public Attorney?

At your first court appearance, the judge will advise you to have an attorney and will ask you if you want to have a court-appointed lawyer to defend you in the case. This is the moment when you can request to get a public attorney if you don't wish to hire a private one. Defendants also have the right to representing and counseling themselves, ( a right referred to as "pro se"). Waving the right of pro-se is usually not advisable, as getting a professional lawyer is always a better idea.

If you choose to get a public attorney, keep in mind that you'll be represented by the same attorney during the entire proceeding.

Do I Have Good Chances Of Winning My DUI Case With A Public Defender?

Before deciding to be represented by a public defender, it is always a good idea to know how to get a free public defender works. Let's be realistic: with a public defender, your chances to win your DUI case are very little, which is why, if you can, it is always better to hire a private attorney.

If you cannot afford to hire one, keep reading the next section to find out how a public defender will beat your case.

Will My Public Defender Beat My Case?

If you want your charges dropped, you should consider hiring a private lawyer. This is because public defenders are generally referred to as general legal lawyers, meaning that they are not specifically familiar with your case. On average, the skills needed to beat your DUI case are above the experience level of a public defender. That said, it doesn't mean that with a public defender winning your case will be impossible.

Chicago public defender

You need to be aware that public defenders tend not to have enough time to prepare a strong defense which will make it more probable to win your case and because they might have different cases assigned at the same time, they might not be giving your case full attention.

What If I Decide To Self Represent In My DUI Case?

As stated previously, in the state of Illinois, it is possible to represent yourself in a DUI case. However, if you don't have the right knowledge of the law and of how legal processes work, it is highly unavoidable. Most of the time, if you decide to self-represent yourself, you will have low chances to win your case.

What Happens When I Plead Guilty to a DUI?

When you plead guilty, the court will enter a conviction, which is virtually the same outcome you would have gotten if you went to trial with a guilty verdict. DUIs are considered as misdemeanor criminal offenses, meaning that they can be converted into felonies if the defendant has a history of other offenses or convictions for the same crime or if the DUI involves deaths or injuries.

What Should You Do?

If you can't afford a private lawyer, using a free one is better than being left without a lawyer, especially when it comes to DUI convictions. If it is the first time you are charged for DUI, the best option for you is to get legal advice from an experienced lawyer, to get more options for your defense.

Indeed, because the chances of winning a DUI case are very little with a public defender, if you have the opportunity to do so, you should hire a private lawyer.