Legal Question in Criminal Law in Ohio

federal case

my fiance is a suspect in a bank robbary. his federal public defender told the US Attorney that he was going to enter a quilty plea and had him sign a 30 day waiver of indictment. no charges have been brought against him but they want him to enter a plea and await charges. the plea was 15 yrs but he has not being indicted. while he had a fire arm on him when the picked him up but he did not rob the bank. the only thing is he did 14 years for armed bank robbary so they are using his past against him. i want to know if it is really worth coming up with the 10-15k to hire a private attorney. it seem the public defender really doesn't care about the case but to get it over with.

Asked on 10/17/07, 3:28 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

David Drew David P. Drew, Esq.

Re: federal case

Your question is a very difficult one to answer without knowing who the attorney is and the facts of the case. Without this knowledge you are simply asking me or another attorney to guess what your husband should do.

With that said I can only tell you that it is never my practice to enter a guilty plea without my client first, being indicted and secondly, reviewing all the evidence involved in the case. Again, I do not know if this was done by your current attorney or not.

If you do choose to hire a private attorney, 10-15 thousand for the case is not unreasonable assuming that you hire an experienced attorney who regularly practices in Federal District Court.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Answered on 10/18/07, 9:15 am
Richard Cline Office of the Ohio Public Defender

Re: federal case

Your question addresses a repeated concern that arises when counsel is appointed to represent someone. I do not know in what district court your husband's case is pending, but from your zip code I will assume it is in the Northern District of Ohio.

I do not know any of the federal public defenders in the Northern District of Ohio (With whom I AM familiar), so I cannot comment about them directly. I am, however, an attorney in private practice and therefore I "compete" with the federal public defenders for clients in the sense that, if you came up the money to hire a private lawyer, I might be that lawyer. I tell you that in the spirit of full disclosure of my own bias and self-interest.

Having said those things, let me tell you my opinion of federal public defenders in general, and the federal public defenders in the Southern District of Ohio in particular. In my opinion, these are excellent attorneys who work very hard on behalf of their clients. In most cases, the client is lucky to have such an experienced advocate handle their case for free.

Why, then, should anyone ever hire me? Why not always use a public defender? The best answer is that, in any given case, the client must have the confidence in, and respect for, their attorney to allow the client to listen to the advice of the lawyer. Based on your question, it seems clear to me that you do not have that level of trust and confidence in your husband's federal public defender. The issue is whether or not your husband has that level of trust and confidence. If he does, then he should stay with the public defender. If not, and if the family is able to raise the money, he should hire a private attorney in whom he has complete confidence and trust. It really is that simple.

Best of luck to your husband.


Rich Cline

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Answered on 10/17/07, 3:41 pm
Mark Chuparkoff Chuparkoff & Chuparkoff

Re: federal case

Not to sound coy, but that is a choice you have to make. I hear from a lot of people that they feel uncomfortable with a public defender because the attorney does not have an actual "stake" in the outcome. As you know, public defenders are state/federal employees and get compensated as such. I have seen PDs who are very good and some that live up to the reputation of not caring about their clients because they are "free".

First and foremost, you have to feel comfortable with the attorney you have. Second, your expectations have to be realistic. If there is a video of your husband robbing the bank, it would be an uphill battle for any attorney. If there is some question about guilt, a better lawyer will make a difference.

Regarding cost, 10-15k to defend this case seems reasonable. If done correctly, there is a lot of work involved... not to mention how much is at stake regarding the outcome. Either way, it is your money and your life so you have to feel completely comfortable with whatever route you go.

Knowing my experience versus that of the typical public defender, I would always opt for a private lawyer.

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Answered on 10/17/07, 3:55 pm

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