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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    2

    Default Private Federal Attorney or Federal Public Defender - Which Should I Go with

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Texas

    I was notified that I was a target of a federal investigation for tax evasion charges stemming from embezzlement. At the time I was unable to afford representation and went before a magistrate to see if I could qualify for a federal public defender. I was considered borderline; as I had a job and owned my own home, but the judge agreed to assign a defender to represent me for target purposes. I have been notified that the U.S. attorney is going forward with prosecution and I have been offered a plea agreement. My defender appears to be happy with this, but I am not so sure.

    I am conflicted whether I should stay with the public defender or should I retain a federal attorney? I could sell some assets to get the money for an attorney, but this would be taking money away from my family that they would need to survive on if I am given a prison sentence.

    Please no moral replies, I am aware of what I did was wrong and I am willing to accept responsibility, I just want to lessen the impact for my family; as I am the sole breadwinner in my family and I have a special needs child.

    Please any advise as to which way I should proceed would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,600

    Default Re: Private Federal Attorney or Federal Public Defender - Which Should I Go with

    It sounds like you know that they have you dead to rights on the charges so you have a few options:

    1. Take the plea, which I'm assuming is less severe than the possible punishment if it goes to trial and you lose.
    2. Reject the plea and move forward with your public defender hoping that you either swing an acquittal or a sentence lesser than the plea deal being offered.
    3. Reject the plea, dismiss your public defender and obtain private representation hoping that you either swing an acquittal or a sentence lesser than the plea deal being offered. All while spending money on representation, keeping in mind there may be significant fines levied as a part of your sentence.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Private Federal Attorney or Federal Public Defender - Which Should I Go with

    Quote Quoting free9man
    View Post
    It sounds like you know that they have you dead to rights on the charges so you have a few options:

    1. Take the plea, which I'm assuming is less severe than the possible punishment if it goes to trial and you lose.
    2. Reject the plea and move forward with your public defender hoping that you either swing an acquittal or a sentence lesser than the plea deal being offered.
    3. Reject the plea, dismiss your public defender and obtain private representation hoping that you either swing an acquittal or a sentence lesser than the plea deal being offered. All while spending money on representation, keeping in mind there may be significant fines levied as a part of your sentence.
    You are correct except that I have not been indicted yet. I have spoken with a private attorney and they felt like they could negotiate a better plea agreement than what was offered. I guess what I am asking advice on is which representation should I go with? Should I stay the PD who appears to be willing to accept whatever is being offered, but would leave assests for my family to use if I am incarerated. Or, go with a private counsel that could just be telling what I wish to hear in order to get my fee, thus depleting valuable resources.

    I am totally confused as to what would be the best course of action and scared out of my mind!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Private Federal Attorney or Federal Public Defender - Which Should I Go with

    Unless you are in a major city with a federal public defender office, that is not already overwhelmed with cases, the federal court will appoint you a private attorney. All that assumes you qualify for a public defender.

    And none of that really matters if you are guilty and the government can prove the case. Then all the attorney is going to do is try to negotiate a plea bargain. If you are innocent or could mount a defense to beat the case (not likely in the indicated crime), then you'd be wanting to fight and the attorney would agree. Make sure though that you and your attorney understand the elements of the crime. I have seen plenty where the government could not prove a critical element, like intent, and they lost. Again, that doesn't sound likely in your case.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,600

    Default Re: Private Federal Attorney or Federal Public Defender - Which Should I Go with

    If they are offering a plea, which means an indictment isn't too far around the corner, it could be for several reasons:
    1. To save the taxpayers the cost of a trial.
    2. To give you the opportunity to admit wrongdoing while not having the full sentence hanging over your head.
    3. They may be concerned that some aspect of their case could create an opening for the defense to secure an acquittal. This one is HIGHLY unlikely but a possibility nevertheless.

    The concern I would have with the attorney saying you could get a better deal is they only have your side of the story. Until you hire him/her, he/she will not be able to get the prosecution's side. There may be more than enough in there to convince him/her that you are getting the best deal possible. Also note that the attorney said "could" and not "will" in regards to getting you a better deal. You could pay him/her a lot of money to wind up with the same, or possibly a worse, plea deal.

    Which counsel to use is a decision none of us can make for you. It is entirely up to you. If you are a religious person, pray about it. If not, research the private attorney's previous cases to see what kind of track record he/she has. How long have you been given to decide on the plea? Odds are, once that date passes an indictment will be sought and secured.

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