Even if you’re eventually determined “indigent” and appointed a Public Defender to represent you during most of your case, it is important that you seek out a Raleigh, Apex, or Cary criminal lawyer before you are arrested.
Why? One Word: Bail.
Because the most crucial stage of your case is your First Appearance, you should have a Raleigh criminal attorney present when a judge for the first time informs you of the charges against you and sets your bail.
In 98 percent of the cases, a Public Defender will not be present at your First Appearance because the First Appearance is where you request a Public Defender. So the Public Defender has not yet been informed of your case in order to have an attorney present. You must arrange an attorney on your own. In addition, you can’t call the Public Defender yourself and request an attorney. A judge must appoint a Public Defender.
Your only option is to hire a Raleigh, Apex, or Cary criminal lawyer to come represent you.
If you do not have an attorney representing you at your First Appearance, the only side represented is the District Attorney. The judge will hear from the Wake County District Attorney about the seriousness of the charges against you. The judge will hear from the District Attorney about the danger of letting you out of jail. The judge will hear from the District Attorney about how the Wake County District Attorney is afraid if the bail is set low you will not show up for court.
The judge will not hear from an attorney representing you. No one representing you will explain that you have strong ties to the community. No one representing you will explain that you are in school, or have a job, or go to church, or have family in the area. No one representing you will make sure your family, friends, or girlfriend, or boyfriend will be at the hearing to speak up for you.
The judge, in fact, may instruct you to remain silent so that you don’t jeopardize your case.
The judge will hear from the DA, but either very little or not at all from your side. Based on that information, the judge will set the bail conditions. The judge will not hear about how you can’t afford to make a high bail. The judge will not hear about why you should be released on your own recognizance (with no requirement that you pay bail).
In order to ensure that you get the best hearing at this time, you should absolutely have a criminal lawyer present at this hearing. The criminal lawyer can make a “limited appearance” where he argues on your behalf, after talking with you, about your bail and release conditions.
If you later decide you want to hire a different criminal lawyer, or that you can’t afford an attorney, and want one appointed to represent you by the Public Defender, the court will allow that.
But having a criminal attorney represent you at the bail hearing could make the difference between whether you spend the next 6 to 10 months in jail awaiting trial on a serious felony, or whether you spend that time in the community, with your family and friends, keeping your job, going to school, and living a fairly normal life.
In addition, your Raleigh, Apex, or Cary criminal lawyer can enter the jail to meet with you face-to-face and those meetings cannot be recorded or taped by the Wake County Sheriff. Your family, at most, may be able to meet with you, but only over a video conference system that is taped and recorded by the Wake County Sheriff.