Private Lawyer vs. Public Defender — Which Do I Choose?
Most citizens don’t think they will ever have to interact with the criminal justice system. Yet, when they eventually do, they find themselves overwhelmed and woefully unprepared for the weighty decisions they must make. Perhaps the biggest issue they face is choosing to hire a public defender or private lawyer.
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is paramount when facing criminal charges. However, many people decide on their legal representation based on what they think they can afford, rather than what they can’t afford to lose — their freedom. As a result, they end up with an inadequate defense and face far more dire consequences than they would have otherwise.
To help you make the right decision, let’s compare the service of public defenders and private attorneys. We’ll go over the strengths of both options so you have an accurate picture of what the right choice for you is.
Should I Go With A Public Defender?
If you can’t afford an attorney, you’ll be assigned a public defender for your criminal defense. Unfortunately, that’s the limit of what most people know about public defenders. However, to better understand the vital role they play in criminal justice, we need to look deeper.
Public defenders are government employees on either the state or federal level. Their role exists because everyone is entitled to legal representation when facing prosecution. They do not charge their clients and instead get paid by the government.
The “free” aspect of public defenders has led to some believing they are of lesser quality than private attorneys. To some, a lack of fees translates to a lack of skill or competency. To these people, public defenders place their clients at a disadvantage.
However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Public defenders are incredibly skilled and, because they are in high demand, experienced. As a result, it’s a highly competitive position, and only the best get chosen to fill the role.
Unfortunately, public defenders almost always have a heavy caseload because they are highly demanded. With so many clients to represent at one time, they may not be able to give you or your case the personalized attention you expect. They simply don’t have the time to develop relationships with clients like private attorneys.
The number of cases they carry also means they have less time to build a defense and perform research. Though they have an incredible number of resources to do so, they’re hard-pressed to make full use of them, given how many clients they serve simultaneously.
Another issue is that, while you can freely request a public defender, you cannot pick your specific attorney. Instead, the court assigns them based on availability. So, even if there is a public defender you have faith in, there’s no guarantee you’ll work with them.
Public defenders offer an essential service to the public and provide legal representation to everyone, regardless of what they can afford. However, their inability to devote a significant amount of time to any one case can leave clients bitterly disappointed.
Should I Choose A Private Attorney?
As the name suggests, a private attorney is self-employed or part of a firm. They are not government employees, though they also need to meet an incredibly rigorous set of standards to practice law. The most significant difference between a public defender and a private criminal attorney is that they charge clients for their services.
A lawyer’s rates can be a considerable expense. Charges vary from firm to firm and attorney to attorney, some charge a flat rate and others by the hour.
Private attorneys can work more closely with each client because they have smaller caseloads and more time to pursue all avenues of your case, craft defense strategies, and perform research. As a result, they can spend more time working on your case and communicating with you. In addition, you’re more likely to have your ideas heard and considered by a private attorney as a result.
Private attorneys generally have more human resources at their disposal, too. In any instance where they cannot meet with you, their staff will typically be able to assist. In addition, they will generally have working relationships with other professionals who can help your case, like private investigators.
Private attorneys also rely on their success to obtain more clients, unlike public defenders. They strive to get you the best results they can because their reputation gives them added value to potential clients. In short, their future work depends on what they can do for current clients, and their success rate is crucial to their reputation.
Put Your Trust in Schwartz Law
A criminal conviction can change your life forever. Unfortunately, a public defender may not have the time or resources to deliver favorable results in your trial. You need an attorney on your side who can give you not only their time but peace of mind.
You need the expertise of a former prosecutor. You need Cobb County criminal defense attorney Andrew L. Schwartz P.C. on your side.
If you’re seeking criminal defense in the Cobb County or Metro Atlanta area, Andrew Schwartz can help. With a passion for aggressive defenses, the staff at Schwartz Law will always put your best interest first, no matter what charges you face. Contact us today for your free consultation.