Should I Use a Public Defender or Hire a Private Defense Attorney?

Should I Use a Public Defender or Hire a Private Defense Attorney?

Facing criminal charges can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience, and one of the most critical decisions you’ll have to make is choosing between a private defense attorney or a public defender to represent you. Both options have their advantages and limitations, and it’s crucial to understand the differences to make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll explore the factors you should consider when choosing a private for-hire attorney or a public defender.

1. Expertise and Resources:

Private Defense Attorney:
Private criminal defense attorneys often have specialized expertise in specific areas of the law. They can choose their cases, allowing them to focus on their strengths and build a strong defense tailored to your situation. They also have access to a network of experts, investigators, and resources that can be crucial in building a strong defense.

Public Defender:
Public defenders are committed legal professionals, but they often have heavy caseloads and limited resources. While they possess valuable experience, they might have less time to dedicate to your case, which can impact the depth of their investigation and preparation.

2. Personalized Attention:

Private Defense Attorney:
Hiring a private attorney typically means receiving more personalized attention. Your attorney can give your case the time and dedication it deserves, addressing your specific needs and concerns.

Public Defender:
Public defenders may have numerous cases to handle simultaneously, which can limit their ability to provide the same level of individualized attention. While they will work diligently to represent you, their caseloads may affect the depth of their involvement in your case.

3. Costs and Fees:

Private Defense Attorney:
Hiring a private attorney involves costs, which can vary significantly based on the complexity of your case and the attorney’s experience. However, many private defense attorneys offer payment plans or accept legal aid if you qualify.

Public Defender:
Public defenders are provided by the state or federal government, so their services are typically free if you meet the eligibility criteria. This makes them an accessible option for individuals who cannot afford private representation.

4. Decision-Making Control:

Private Defense Attorney:
When you choose a private attorney, you have more control over the direction of your defense. You can make decisions about plea bargains, trial strategies, and other aspects of your case.

Public Defender:
Public defenders are obligated to act in your best interests, but their ability to make strategic decisions may be influenced by the policies of their office and their caseload. You still have a say, but you may have less control over the direction of your defense.

The choice between hiring a private defense attorney and using a public defender is a critical decision that should be based on your specific circumstances and needs. Private attorneys offer expertise, personalized attention, and flexibility, but they come at a cost. Public defenders provide legal representation without direct fees, but their caseloads may limit their ability to dedicate as much time to your case.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your financial situation, the complexity of your case, and your comfort level with your chosen attorney. Consult with a legal professional to make an informed choice that will best serve your interests in your criminal defense case.

Looking for legal help? Call Akamine Law for a FREE case review.

Can I Fight A Probation Violation Charge?

Can I Fight A Probation Violation Charge?

Probation serves as an alternative to incarceration, offering individuals a chance to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society while under court supervision. Unfortunately, probation violations can happen, and these can lead to legal consequences. If you face a probation violation charge in Ohio, you might wonder if you can fight it. In this blog, we’ll explore the process of challenging a probation violation in Ohio and the key factors to consider.

Understanding Probation Violations in Ohio

Probation in Ohio typically involves a set of conditions that you must adhere to while serving your probation term. Common conditions include regular check-ins with a probation officer, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, maintaining employment, and avoiding any new criminal charges. When you fail to meet these conditions, it’s considered a probation violation.

Probation violations can be categorized into two types: technical violations and substantive violations.

  • Technical Violations: These involve breaking the rules of probation that do not involve new criminal activity. For example, missing a meeting with your probation officer or failing a drug test could be a technical violation.
  • Substantive Violations: These involve new criminal activity while on probation. Committing a new crime, no matter how minor, can result in a substantive violation.

Fighting a Probation Violation

If you’re facing a probation violation in Ohio, you have the right to challenge the charges. The process involves several steps:

  1. Notice of Violation: You will receive a notice of violation, detailing the alleged violations and the potential consequences.
  2. Hearing: You have the right to a hearing where you can present your case. It’s important to understand that the burden of proof is lower in probation violation cases compared to regular criminal trials. Instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard of proof is typically “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it’s more likely than not that you violated your probation.
  3. Legal Representation: It’s highly advisable to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney can help you build a strong defense, challenge evidence, and present your case effectively.
  4. Evidence and Witnesses: Gather evidence or witnesses supporting your case. This may include alibis, character references, or proof that you were making a genuine effort to meet your probation conditions.
  5. Negotiation: In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate with your probation officer or the prosecutor to reach an agreement. This could involve modifying your probation conditions rather than facing more severe consequences.

Possible Outcomes

When fighting a probation violation in Ohio, there are several potential outcomes:

  • Dismissal: If you successfully challenge the violation, it may be dismissed, and you can continue your probation as originally ordered.
  • Modification: In some cases, the court may modify your probation conditions or extend the probation term.
  • Revocation: If the court finds you in violation of your probation, it can revoke your probation and impose more severe penalties, such as incarceration.

Challenging a probation violation charge in Ohio is possible, but it can be a complex and challenging process. It’s crucial to take the situation seriously, seek legal representation, and be prepared to present a strong defense. Additionally, always aim to comply with your probation conditions to avoid future violations, as maintaining a positive record can be crucial to your success in these cases.

Remember that the outcome of your probation violation hearing will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and the evidence presented. If you’re facing a probation violation, consult with an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf.

If you or someone you love has been accused of violating probation, don’t face the charges alone.

Defense attorney Nathan Akamine will help you. He is a former Franklin County Prosecutor and he has successfully defended clients at probation violation hearings for 20+ years.

The Difference Between a Bench Warrant and Arrest Warrant

The Difference Between a Bench Warrant and Arrest Warrant

No warrant that you receive should be ignored. It will still exist in your file and failing to act on these official court records will complicate your case and could cause jail time.

What is an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant must first be approved by a judge before it can be executed, but only after investigators present their findings with compelling evidence. Once the arrest warrant has been issued, law enforcement agents have the power to search for you and place you under arrest.

Following your arrest, you’ll be processed (booked) at a police station to establish proper identification, and your fingerprints and facial photographs (mugshot) will be taken by the police for entry into the legal database.

What is a bench warrant?

Bench warrants are issued for “failure to appear” or capias warrants and are the most frequently issued type of warrant. They are different from arrest warrants in that they are not issued at the beginning of criminal proceedings, but rather issued for your failure to appear at a hearing at a specific point in the criminal process.

When a bench warrant is issued, a police officer may not necessarily visit your home to carry out (execute) a bench warrant, but if an officer engages you over something else, like a traffic infraction, and runs your name through the computer, he/she will find the bench warrant and probably detain you.

How do I know if a warrant has been issued?

In either case, you can take proactive measures to find out if a court issued a warrant against you. You can search the court database online, or hire a criminal defense lawyer to do it for you. Your appearance date will be specified in the court’s paperwork, along with any penalties for missing it.

Search the public record using Franklin County Municipal Clerk Lori Tyack’s Court Access and Search Engine (CASE).

PLEASE NOTE: all individuals with outstanding warrants are strongly encouraged to contact a criminal defense attorney.

How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel immediately. Even seemingly minor crimes can still result in a criminal record and harsh sentences, and having a record can haunt you for years, limiting your life, from where you work to where you live.

The reality is, when it comes to criminal defense, not all lawyers are created equal. The outcome of your case is largely dependent on having the right lawyer fighting for you. A Google search turns up thousands of results. All claiming to be the right attorney for you. So, how do you know who to choose?

Although the nature and severity of the alleged crime will factor heavily into how your case is handled, any person who is charged with a crime should ensure that their lawyer meets all of the following criteria.

1. Experience with the Charges You are Facing

Hiring an attorney who specializes in white collar crimes may not be the best choice to fight your sexual assault charge. Criminal law is complex and ever evolving, so it’s essential to work with a lawyer who has extensive experience in the specific crime with which you’ve been charged.

Do your homework and hire a lawyer who has a deep understanding of exactly what you’re going through.

2. Comfortability

Most law firms offer a free initial consultation. I recommend taking advantage of it. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and see how you interact together. Personal chemistry is an underrated, yet very important factor when choosing legal representation. If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer, the legal process is going to be unnecessarily long and painful, and the outcome is less likely to be favorable.

The best lawyer-client relationships are collaborative. When you trust your lawyer, the relationship becomes more of a partnership, and the chances of a successful outcome increase dramatically.

Use these questions as a guide to determine if the lawyer you’re interviewing is right for you.

  • Am I comfortable talking openly to them?
  • Does my lawyer explain things in a way that I can understand?
  • Does my lawyer seem genuinely concerned about me and the outcome of my case?
  • Does my lawyer seem trustworthy?
  • Does my lawyer appear confident?

3. Word of Mouth and Online Reviews

One of the best ways to find a good defense lawyer is word of mouth. If you know someone who has been in a similar situation, ask who they used for legal counsel and if they were happy with their results. However, just because a lawyer was a good fit for someone else, doesn’t make them a good fit for you. So, don’t just take a name and run with it. Make sure you have the consultation, then do some online digging. With the wealth of information available on the internet, there is no excuse to not do your homework.

Choosing the right defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Check the state bar association website to see if the lawyer has a record of formal discipline, and search for reviews on Facebook and Google.

IMPORTANT TIP: Although reviews can assist in guiding you, they should not be taken as the deciding factor in your end decision.

One bad review shouldn’t necessarily keep you from working with a particular lawyer, but several bad reviews should be a clear red flag. The same goes for good reviews. Just because a lawyer has 2,000 good reviews and another has 200, doesn’t mean one lawyer is better than the other. A criminal case is a personal and private matter that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world. So, don’t let a lack of reviews stop you from scheduling a consultation either.

4. Courtroom Confidence

If your case moves to trial, you want to know that your lawyer has confidence in the courtroom. In addition to specifically asking about courtroom experience, a lawyer’s appearance and demeanor can give big clues as to how they will perform in a courtroom. If they are neatly dressed, well spoken, and confident, these characteristics will bode well in a courtroom setting.

On the other hand, if a lawyer appears nervous or disheveled, their arguments may be less convincing to a judge and jury. As with most things, exceptions exist, but confidence is generally the hallmark of any successful trial lawyer.

It is also important that your lawyer can take direction from you. Although they will control certain aspects of your case, like filing motions and calling witnesses, the big decisions, like whether to plead guilty or go to trial, or whether to try to make a deal, are YOUR call. Look for an attorney who takes the time to get to know you and your goals, and who actively integrates your input into the legal strategy.

5. Listen to Your Gut

At the end of the day, trust your instincts. If something feels off, don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember, you are interviewing the defense lawyer, not the other way around. Ultimately, this is your battle to fight, and you need the right lawyer by your side if you’re going to win.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and in need of an experienced criminal lawyer, please contact Nathan Akamine.

Violating probation: What to expect.

Violating probation: What to expect.

Facing a potential conviction due to a probation violation can be daunting, especially if it was unintentional or stemmed from an oversight. As your probation violation attorney, my primary focus is to advocate for you and persuade the judge to consider leniency rather than imposing severe penalties for what may have been a simple lapse in judgment.

What can I expect from the probation violation process?

Understanding the probation violation process is essential for navigating through it effectively. While it differs from a typical criminal case, the general procedure remains similar.

  1. Notification: Your probation officer will inform the court of the alleged violation(s) of probation terms.
  2. Court Action: The court will schedule a hearing to address the violation and may issue a warrant for your arrest.
  3. Arrest and Bond: If arrested, you will attend a hearing where a bond may be set.
  4. Statement of Violations: You will be provided with a Statement of Violations detailing the alleged breaches of probation terms.
  5. Probable Cause Hearing: You have the right to a hearing to determine if there is sufficient cause for the alleged violation.
  6. Evidentiary Hearing: You are entitled to a hearing where the state must prove that the violation occurred.

What are the possible consequences of violating probation?

  • Community service
  • Probation warning or modification
  • Extension of probation duration
  • Additional probationary restrictions (e.g., stricter curfew)
  • Mandatory drug testing or treatment
  • Enrollment in specific classes or programs (e.g., anger management)
  • Regular counseling sessions
  • Jail time

It’s crucial to note that the judge who initially imposed probation will also preside over the violation hearing. This judge’s familiarity with the case may influence their decision on the appropriate punishment. Therefore, there’s a risk that they may opt for harsher penalties than initially anticipated.

Having an experienced probation violation attorney by your side is invaluable during this process. We can analyze your case to identify mitigating factors, such as progress made during probation, stable employment, or participation in rehabilitative programs, which may sway the court toward a more favorable outcome. By presenting a compelling case and advocating on your behalf, we strive to minimize the repercussions of a probation violation.

Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

If you’ve spent any time on social media, it’s likely that you read abusive and oftentimes offensive statements posted or left as comments. Most people are under the assumption the things said online are without repercussions. However, that may not be the case.

Perhaps you remember hearing about Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man who was arrested last year on federal charges after investigators claimed that he made multiple entries online posting his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of Olsen telling the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”, he was booked on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Although Olsen’s charges are considered to be severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone that hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Online actions can have severe consequences.

You may remember a case where social media played a major part in a case against two football players who were eventually found guilty of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened the night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friend’s party, and that she only became aware of it after a video surfaced on social media. A key piece of evidence was an Instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

That being said, photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • they can not be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls in the same case after police were shown twitter posts threatening the physical harm to the victim if she didn’t drop the charges.

Can I be arrested for posting a video?

Richard Godbehere uploaded a 5-minute video of himself driving, cracking open a beer, then proceeding to take a drink. He then stated “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

A joke, maybe. Against the law, definitely. He was surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

He stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there wasn’t actually beer in the bottle, to which Police Chief Darryl Perry stated: “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

The moral of the story, be careful what you say online. It can, and will be used against you in a court of law.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Nathan Akamine.