Your Michigan Assault Lawyer: Court Appointed?

One of the most common questions we receive at The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC is "what is the difference between a Court-appointed criminal defense attorney and a privately hired criminal defense attorney?"

The "politically correct" answer is "nothing." The truth is "it depends." All Michigan criminal defense lawyers are sworn and bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct to provide zealous, competent, diligent representation in each and every case they handle. If we were to tell you that a Court-appointed criminal defense lawyer is not as good as a retained criminal defense lawyer, then we would be insulting ourselves, because we never turn down a Judge's request to represent a human being in trouble who barely has enough money and resources to survive day to day. On top of that (and you can check our files), we work extremely hard when a Judge grants us the honor of serving our profession as Court-appointed counsel. We make objections, file and argue motions, visit our clients in Jail, and take these cases to trial if our client wants it taken to trial.

Barring that, the truth is that the system is broken. Court-appointed criminal defense attorneys are overworked and underpaid. For example, one mid-Michigan County pays $60 per Court-appearance. For example, if you are charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, subjecting you to up to 10 years in a state prison (up to LIFE if you are a Habitual Offender), your Court-appointed attorney may have an incentive NOT to work hard on your case. Imagine that she spends 1 hour preparing for your next court hearing (which is grossly inadequate, by our standards), a half-hour driving to the Court, 1 hour speaking with you, the prosecutor, and waiting for the case to be called, 10 minutes in front of the Judge, and a half-hour driving back, then she has earned approximately $20.00 per hour, not including her expenses. Considering the cost of running a law practice, this is grossly insufficient.

It is no wonder that The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC receives letters and postcards from our Jail inmates claiming that their Court-appointed criminal defense lawyer is either: ignoring their concerns, or is working against them.

Perhaps you are facing misdemeanor assault and battery charges under Michigan law. By the time you meet with your Court-appointed attorney for the first time, the following things will probably have already happened: the event leading to your charges, a phone call to the police, an accusation against you, a conversation between you and the police, your arrest, waiver of your 5th and 6th Amendment rights, questioning at the police station, conversations with other inmates in the holding cell, a phone conversation between you and a friend or relative discussing the events, your Arraignment before a District Court Magistrate or Judge, and so on and so on. Each one of these events is an opportunity for the government to gather evidence and put you in virtual checkmate, forcing you to take a "deal." In some Courts, every time you go to a new hearing in your case, you get a different Court-appointed criminal defense lawyer.

Whether you are facing some type of Michiganfelony assault charges or Michigan misdemeanor assault or assault and battery charges, the basics are all very consistent. There are 2 sides to the story in every assault case. Your accuser usually has some motive to lie or exaggerate (as do most of the witnesses, which may be why you are being charged and not the other person), split-second events, and who you are as a person all have an enormous impact on your outcome.

Under the circumstances that most Court-appointed criminal defense attorneys work under, it is simply impossible to do everything necessary to investigate and effectively defeat your Michigan assault charges. Because of the unique issues involved in Michigan felony assault charges, Michigan misdemeanor assault and battery charges, and Michigan domestic violence charges, these problems are intensified. You need to have the undivided attention of your Michigan assault lawyer from the very moment the ordeal starts. This is OUR opinion. What's yours?

Have you ever faced Michigan assault charges, assault and battery charges, or domestic violence charges? Have you ever been represented by a Court-appointed criminal defense attorney? A criminal defense attorney that you privately hired? Both? Please share your thoughts - The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC is eager to hear what your opinion is!


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Prain Law, PLLC is focused only on the types charges featured on our website. This helps us deliver the decisive, effective advocacy for which our clients know us. We only serve individuals currently under investigation or who have a current case pending in court. Our firm does not represent injury victims, defendants who have already taken a plea or have been sentenced, or those seeking to expunge a criminal record. We do not respond to anyone who is not involved in a pending investigation or who has a court case for a type of charge we do not handle, but we wish you the very best of luck.