Guaranteed by the 6th Amendment, a Public Defender is a court-appointed lawyer providing legal counsel for those in the criminal justice system who cannot, otherwise, afford a lawyer. However, as the Hispanic population continues to grow, so does a problem within the criminal justice system.
Public defense offices may only have one Spanish speaking attorney or none at all, leaving Spanish-speaking representation lacking.
As a result, many Latinos can find themselves being misrepresented in court due to language barrier, or spending a significant amount of time in jail, pre-trial, waiting for a Spanish speaking public defender to become available.
In addition, since a public defender’s counsel ends when their assigned case has been resolved, this can leave many non-U.S. citizens facing immigration issues after their other legal convictions have ended and still in need of legal representation.
Beginning with the interaction with local law enforcement and throughout their incarceration process, if a person has limited English skills, and has limited access to Spanish speaking counsel and translators, it can compromise their right to a fair trial.
Regardless of your native language, if you do not speak English adequately, you are entitled to a court interpreter.
Most clerk courts, especially in high-Hispanic cities, will recognize when a person requires an interpreter and either present you with an “I Speak” chart or have one posted near their desk. You can simply point to “Hablo Espanol” on the flyer and the clerk will find an interpreter who speaks Spanish for you. Like a public defender, a court interpreter is free of charge.
Court interpreters are professionals, who help you understand and communicate your case in a court of law. They speak English and Spanish fluently and will help you with the following:
Yet another growing problem within the rise of Hispanics in the criminal justice systems, there simply isn’t enough translators. A recent study found that 46% of 35 states polled failed to provide interpreters in civil cases and 37% of those failed to provide a credentialed interpreter.
With Latinos making up just 17 percent of the overall population in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau for Prisons, Hispanics account for 32 percent of those prosecuted for crimes in federal prison system.
Especially in high-concentration states like California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, Hispanics make up nearly half of the major city-populations. Latinos also make up the largest percentage of people incarcerated in State and County jails, with half the reported crimes being for illegal immigration and the other half for drug-related crimes.
Regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime you are being charged with, it is your right to have adequate legal representation in a court of law to ensure your constitutional rights are protected.
Waiting for a Spanish-speaking public defender or translator could mean significantly more time in jail or inadequate representation if you settle for one who does not speak Spanish.
Here are 8 benefits to hiring a private Criminal Defense Lawyer:
An experienced criminal defense lawyer has spent their career representing people convicted of crimes. They understand the crime or crimes you have been charged with and can advise you how to best proceed with your case.
Guilty or innocent, they understand how the legal system works and can defend your case. They can determine if any rights have been violated, or if there are any inconsistencies in the prosecuting investigation that could work in your favor.
In some cases, your defense lawyer may have a professional relationship with the prosecuting attorney or judge that can even help reduce your sentence or lower harsh penalties through plea bargain.
Half of Hispanic criminal charges across the country involve immigration. Being convicted of a crime, regardless of severity, can often times lead to deportation and being barred from entering the United States in the future.
Having a lawyer with experience in both criminal law and immigration law can better advise you how to protect your immigration status if you are being charged with a crime.
Every criminal conviction requires a different approach, something many Public Defenders are reporting not having the time to do.
Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer, he or she can better investigate the crime or crimes you are being charged with, and even conduct their own inquiry into the prosecution’s case against you.
In some cases, your defense attorney can negotiate a reduce sentence or lesser charges without having to take your case through a lengthy trial.
Hiring a private criminal defense attorney who speaks Spanish will reduce the time you have to wait in jail prior to your case being tried in court.
The longer a case takes to get to trial, the more time the prosecution has had to collect evidence and the more time witnesses to your defense forget details.
In order to build an effective case supporting you, a lawyer must investigate all details of the crime being charged, including interviewing witnesses, preparing documents, and involving experts, if needed.
A private attorney has a full legal team who can assist with such details and give your case the time and attention it deserves.
While there is a cost to hiring a private criminal defense lawyer, it can result in cost savings to you over the course of the year.
If you consider the time a person would spend in jail while waiting for a Spanish speaking public defender; that is time a person could be working and earning a living. A private lawyer can also help reduce court costs and charges related to bail and prison time.
Across the country, Spanish-speaking public defenders have to turn away cases because they simply do not have the time to properly represent all the people requiring their services.
This translates into time and money wasted while your case goes untried in court. In larger cities, finding a Spanish speaking criminal defense lawyer may be easier, and there are a number who will accept payments plans or special financing for legal fees.