Is it a common practice for a public defender to demand a jury trial for an 18 year-old that has received an MIP?

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Is it a common practice for a public defender to demand a jury trial for an 18 year-old that has received an MIP?

My son received an MIP while camping in July with a friend. He spent the weekend in jail, I had to bail him out after his arraignment and now, without even ever speaking to my son, the public defender he was assigned (1 of 2 in the county) has sent us paperwork stating that she is demanding a jury trial. I was told this was a way for her to make the county more money because my son will have to pay for the jurors. I am at my wits end – this is an  MIP not a murder trial. This is a backwoods county with a hillbilly court system and this just doesn’t sound right. Is it? Should I sopeak with a criminal defense attorney? In Pend Orielle County, WA.

Asked on August 19, 2010 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Definitely speak with another attorney if you don't trust this one--and it sounds like you don't. Some things to consider:

1) The attorney is not in control--the defendant (your son) is. The attorney cannot demand a jury trial, place a plea, etc. without your son's agreement. Your son does not need to let the attorney control.

2) The attorney is ethically bound to put her client's interests first. If what you right is accurate (could you have misheard her?), she may be committing an ethical violation.

If you can't afford an attorney, try contacting your state's Legal Aid society and/or your state's bar association. You could also contact the clerk of the court to try to understand the procedures better. Good luck, to you and your son.


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