July 8 2017
If you are arrested In Sarasota County, and you do not immediately post bond, you will be taken before a judge for what is known as a “first appearance”.
This is supposed to happen within 24 hours of your arrest and takes place in a courtroom in the jail.
Many people are denied access to any meaningful contact with the outside world and real private lawyers because of the limited information in the jail.
Many lawyers no longer rely on paper phone books but instead have web pages.
The only thing available in the jail, if you can get to it, is a phone book which may or may not be current.
It is next to impossible for a person in jail to get personally in touch with a real private lawyer.
When they go to first appearance, they are given a form, an application for a public defender. Most people panic if they have not been able to reach a private lawyer and in desperation sign this form. The Court routinely appoints the public defender with very little real inquiry as to whether or not the person can raise the money to hire their own lawyer. The form does not ask you if you can raise money, for example use a credit card to hire a lawyer. It only asks you if you presently have the money. Most people through relatives or the use of credit cards can afford their own private criminal defense lawyer. In the long run, hiring your own attorney can make a huge difference in your future.
Generally, some lawyer is better than no lawyer. There are a few major differences however.
The public defender generally has a huge caseload handling hundreds of cases at a time.
Sometimes, it is very difficult for a person to actually get in touch with his court appointed lawyer.
Court appointed lawyers often cannot handle collateral matters, like getting your car back, getting seized money or property back, or in the case of domestic violence cases, handling parallel court proceedings involving restraining orders.
Most private criminal defense lawyers routinely get involved in solving all of these other issues. The best way I can explain this is to ask “Would you rather go to your own private doctor or go to the public health clinic”?
If your family can hire a private lawyer, do so immediately.As a private lawyer, I almost always get in touch with the prosecutor’s office to try and reach a resolution before the formal charges are filed. I act before the “arraignment” and do not wait until after the prosecutor has made up his or her mind as to what charge to file. Private criminal defense lawyers may get the charges dropped before they are filed. Private lawyers with their private investigators may be able to secure valuable pictures and evidence long before a public defender can get to it. Timing in a criminal case is important.
Prompt action can make all the difference in the world in whether or not the defense is successful.