What is the Difference Between Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney or Using a Public Defender?
Many who have been charged with a criminal offense wonder why spend money on a private criminal defense attorney when a public defender can do the same thing at no cost. While a public defender can certainly represent someone accused of a crime, in most cases it's best to hire a criminal defense lawyer unless you absolutely cannot afford to.
Is a public defender associated in any way with the prosecution or state government? While they are paid by the local state government and therefore publicly funded, public defenders are not associated with the prosecution or government. In most cases public defenders are highly capable in the area of criminal law, however there are disadvantages, some of which we'll explain below.
The most obvious drawback to having a public defender represent a client in a criminal case is that most have extremely heavy caseloads, which means they do not have substantial time to devote to each case in order to secure the best possible result for the client.
Ultimately, those who are forced to use a public defender because they do not have the financial means to hire a criminal defense attorney usually do not get the personal attention they desire. Additionally, public defenders often do not have the time essential to provide the best possible legal representation as they cannot devote their full attention to a thorough investigation, collecting evidence, analyzing the case, and other aspects of the discovery and legal process because of the lack of time. This means that in the end, the alleged offender may be at a disadvantage due to the fact the public defender cannot mount an aggressive defense.
Most private criminal defense attorneys make certain their caseloads allow them the time necessary to provide outstanding legal counsel for each client. Although most people only know what they see on television which is often the defense lawyer arguing inside the courtroom, there is much more to it than that. Defense attorneys provide clients with legal guidance and instruct them regarding protecting their rights and avoiding further incrimination, investigate the allegations of wrong doing, work to find any evidence, witnesses, or experts who may be beneficial to the accused, determine various legal options that may be available to the client, and much more. It isn't simply a matter of walking into a courtroom and "flying by the seat of your pants" for criminal defense lawyers who are passionate about obtaining a positive outcome for the client.
Certainly, a public defender can be a great advocate for those who cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney. However, for those who can the benefits of hiring a private defense lawyer are immeasurable in terms of the client's freedom, career, future, and more.