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Federal Prison Self Surrendering Information Information about Federal Prisons and Self-Surrendering to the BOP.

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  #1  
Old 01-31-2005, 03:10 PM
Jetboatracer25 Jetboatracer25 is offline
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Default Federal Public Defenders vs. Paid Attorney

I'm going to give my 2 cents on the real difference between public defenders and paid attorney on a state and federal level.

I'll briefly explain my experience first. Every man in my family is a state lawyer, I was in law school when I was arrested by the FBI for a white collar crime. I have no prior state or federal convictions.

I've been subpeoned to testify in state court 5 times for the defense. 3 of these guys had PD's. 2 had paid attorneys. The difference is night and day. State public defenders are usually overworked and at the bottom of their law class graduation. Smart lawyers get in a private firm, the state pays very little. State PD's are horrible. Like I said, I've been around lawyers my whole life, it's easy for me to spot good ones and bad ones. My advice, never let a state PD represent you unless it is a very minor issue, and you cant afford a paid attorney.

Federal Public defenders are completely different. I was indicted with a white collar crime in Seattle WA. I talked to 15 lawyers asking for advice on what to do, get a PD, or a paid attorney. Federal cases are very expensive. My case was estimated to cost close to 100-150K. I could have come up with the money, but every lawyer I talked to advised against it. I was apprehensive, I know how bad PD's are. Federal PD's live for their jobs. They are smart and competant. A state PD's office looks like a gyspy car lot, the federal office is on top of a skyscraper with oak furniture and professional meeting rooms. I went with a Federal PD in my case.

They know much more than paid attorneys when it comes to federal court. There are a few good paid federal attorneys, but be prepared to flop down a $20,000 retainer right off the bat, then get charged $350-500 an hour. My federal PD had an investigation team that flew all over the US to investigate my case. They worked very hard, they were confident I would win my case even with the federal trial conviction rate in Seattle at 97%. The government came back at me with a nice tax evasion indictment. So, I ultimately plead to 1 count of mail fraud. I was indicted with 30 counts mail, wire, tax. The PD office did an excellent job for me. I was very surprised and impressed.

Keep in mind, most federal cases are plead out. You are hiring someone to haggle over your crime with the government. The prosecutors have a good repor with the PD office. I've heard some prosecutors hate to deal with private attorneys, and cut them bad deals in spite. The state trial conviction rate is about 65-70% the federal is 95-98%. If your convicted in federal court the consequences are far more severe than state court. If your in federal, try to pick the best negotiater possible. And, remember if you dont like your PD, you can change for free.

The Federal system is a whole different game. State attorneys dont stand a chance with federal law. This is coming from my family members who are private state attorneys. Federal private attorneys are expensive, and in my opinion dont do a much better job. Unless you have the money to spare, I wouldn't even consider paying for a federal case. Feds will do anything to get a conviction. Money is no object to them. Also, if you hire a PD, the judge at your sentencing will be less likely to impose a huge fine. Hope this helps. I've read so many threads on this subject. This is coming from a guy whos been dragged through it all, not from a "theoretical" law student perspective.
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Old 02-02-2005, 12:39 AM
MMP2004 MMP2004 is offline
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Default Agreed!

Hey Jetboat!

That sounds dead-on to me. I don't have a ton of experience, but we had two paid lawyers at the outset of our case who both had their heads COMPLETELY up their a**es, and actually made things worse by not actually doing the things they said they would or spending any time whatsoever on the case. Basically they took our money (which we don't have a lot of) and more-or-less ran off with it since we had to fire them.

Then we got a (federal) PD instead, and he was awesome. He knew the Judge already, worked tirelessly, had a wealth of knowledge on the subject, and was absolutely free! I know you said you're being sentenced in Seattle - is that where your attorney is? Must be the same office - ours is named Tom Hillier. Is he yours also?
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Old 02-02-2005, 05:53 AM
MsVicki MsVicki is offline
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We had 2 private lawyers that in my mind didn't do what it took either. I wish I would have known all this back then. No one ever offered a PD and the subject never came up. I am so happy for the people who come to PTO before their cases have settled. There is so much info that can help everyone. Thank you and God bless.
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Old 02-02-2005, 08:03 AM
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Cinammo Cinammo is offline
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I thought you could not get a Federal Public Defender unless you were deemed indigent by a judge?
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Old 02-02-2005, 11:32 AM
shrekney shrekney is offline
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Default

You are right Cinammo, you must be deemed indigent. Also, I must disagree with jetboatracer to a certain degree. There are some excellent private federal criminal defense lawyers who do a superior job representing their clients. It is true, they are not cheap. I believe the standard fee, including trial is approximately $300,000, however, there are very few federal pds that could provide a level service that is above these lawyers. Frequently, these lawyers even outclass the prosecutors, and a position as an assistant u.s. attorney is one of the most prestigious positions in law.

Now it is true, that when it comes to cheap private lawyers (anything less than $300 per hour is cheap), it would not suprise me if the federal pds have an advantage cause they work exclusively in the federal criminal courts while the cheap private lawyers generally do both state and federal work.

Pds and private lawyers are like anythings else, there are good ones and there bad ones. You just have to pick a good one.
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Old 02-02-2005, 01:37 PM
MsVicki MsVicki is offline
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The problem is that you never know if you have a good one or a bad one til its sometimes too late.
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Old 02-02-2005, 06:37 PM
MMP2004 MMP2004 is offline
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Default "Indigent?"

Well, I'm not sure what the exact financial guidelines are. My husband and I make about $55,000 a year (combined) and we were able to qualify for a federal PD, so you must not have to be SUPER-broke. We had already set up a restitution program (before the feds were even involved in his case) and were paying about $1600/month, which was also taken into account when they figured out our finances. So it seems like if you have an annual income of at least $35,000 or less you are eligible. Is that considered "indigent"?
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Old 02-02-2005, 10:40 PM
Jetboatracer25 Jetboatracer25 is offline
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MMP

Tom Hillier is the head of the Seattle Office. He is very good from what I've heard. I got a PD, the feds seized $600,000 in property and assets from me. Guess I was "indignent" after that. A previous poster said it depends on the individual. I do agree to an extent. Unless your Pablo Escobar who can afford $300-500,000 for a lawyer in federal court. Thats a medium sized case. Not me, I like Uncle Sam and the fact that he paid for my attorney. The feds nailed me for not paying Uncle Sam, then had him pay for my investigation, prosecution, defense. He could have just said "Son, you better pay me that $300,000 in back tax, or I'm gonna arrest you. Case Over, but I guess the people demand justice to stick hard criminals like me in prison....



Quote:
Originally Posted by MMP2004
Well, I'm not sure what the exact financial guidelines are. My husband and I make about $55,000 a year (combined) and we were able to qualify for a federal PD, so you must not have to be SUPER-broke. We had already set up a restitution program (before the feds were even involved in his case) and were paying about $1600/month, which was also taken into account when they figured out our finances. So it seems like if you have an annual income of at least $35,000 or less you are eligible. Is that considered "indigent"?
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