Clients should listen to the advice of their lawyers when it differs from information learned from sources other than their lawyers.
Although each case is unique and differences can exist among judicial circuits and courtrooms, there are legal rules of procedure that apply to all felony and misdemeanor cases involving adults and juveniles prosecuted in adult court.
In criminal cases, the plaintiff is the state of Florida and the defendant is the person accused of committing a crime. In this description, we use the word “client” to describe the defendants we have been appointed to represent and the generic “he” to refer to both male and female clients. Also, in many instances the word "state" is used instead of the state attorney's office or the prosecution.
The Public Defender represents people who may lose their liberty and cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Only a judge can appoint the public defender to represent the person in court after determining that the person is indigent.
Learn how a standard case runs through the criminal justice system for adult cases or the juvenile justice system for children, as well as how a case is handled by the office of the public defender.
The attorney-client relationship begins when the public defender is either appointed by a court or speaks to a person in custody to determine if he or she might qualify for the services of the public defender. Everything the client tells an attorney, employee, volunteer or intern of the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office is confidential, governed by the attorney-client privilege under Section 90.502, Florida Statutes, and cannot be revealed without the client's consent.
It is important to understand that the client’s conversations with a spouse, family, friends, other prisoners, news reporters, police or probation and corrections officers are not subject to the attorney-client privilege and can be used against the client in court.