How Defendants Suffer From This Devastated Economy

By · April 22, 2010 · Filed in Criminal Cases

This is probably the worst economy our country has seen in any of our lifetimes. This may not sound like a topic for people accused of crimes, but it impacts you more than you realize. Right now you are facing criminal charges. Maybe you are facing very serious charges, and those charges carry long prison terms. Your family no longer has access to the kinds of resources necessary to pay for the kind of defense you need. Once upon a time families throughout Southern California could tap into their homes or properties to pay for a defense, but the value of those homes and properties have really gone down. This value is called equity and it has dipped to historic lows. But the payments on those homes have not dipped and many people are losing their homes. To make it more difficult, banks are not willing to lend on houses because they fear they will lose their money and not be able to sell the house if the homeowners lose their jobs.

While they say the recession is over, the fact is common people are still unemployed and losing their jobs. Even if they get their jobs back it will take months, if not years, to regain savings or credit so they can afford even small extras in life.

This is impacting people charged with smaller crimes and well as larger crimes. Families of those with smaller cases are saying, “Just let the public defender handle it.” Families of those defendants with larger cases just do not have the money to put up a good defense. Public defender and conflict panel attorneys are being swamped with cases and are overloaded. Courts are not approving costs for experts and investigation like they used to, and private lawyers are not taking small payments. Those private lawyers see that people are not making payments and so the private lawyers have changed their policies.

Unfortunately, the laws are not getting easier and the prosecutors are not giving better deals. This economy helps them because the defense is weakened but the prosecution is not. And the legislature keeps enacting tougher laws.

When will this end, you probably ask? Realistically it is hard to tell! The economy seems to be stopped from declining but the effects are still there and will probably only slowly improve. For you facing major prison sentences this is probably not encouraging. I wish more encouraging things could be said. This is a time where your families need to make sacrifices and understand that once a person is convicted it is hard to reverse, and there could be a long road to freedom. If you can hire private counsel, be especially selective and interview them carefully. Remember, careful judgment is critical. Rash impulses could result in throwing away what money your family has and could result in an ineffective defense. A lot of lawyers are full of stories of victory and promises of great things, but few of them actually live up to those results and those promises.

Good Luck!!!

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