Should I Use a Public Defender or Private Attorney

Should I Use a Public Defender or Private Attorney

Like most things, there are both pros and cons to using a public defender.  In the end, however, we do believe that the benefits of hiring a private attorney outweigh the benefits of a public defender and the downfalls commonly seen with utilizing a public defender are hard to ignore.  We find that the biggest problem with utilizing a public defender is the time given to your case.  Although our opinion is obvious, we are private defense attorneys after all, we will walk through the pros and cons of each to outline and show our reasoning.  We believe that this article will allow you to make an informed decision on whether to hire a private attorney for your defense or stick with the defense attorney.  

Advantages of a Public Defender

The biggest advantage of a public defender is cost.  You do not hire a public defender, they are appointed which means that a public defender being appointed to you comes at no cost.  The other possible advantage is that public defenders typically see prosecutors every day and have a working relationship with them which means that would have some insight on how a specific prosecutor may respond to certain plea deals. 

Disadvantages of a Public Defender

Public defenders often carry a tremendous workload.  They are paid by the government which means that the public defender's office is staffed close to the minimum number of attorneys necessary to meet demand.  This results in public defenders only being able to put in a small amount of time for each case they are handling resulting in overlooked opportunities for defenses and hastily prepared plea deals.  Additionally, your public defender may not have much experience in the type of criminal matter you are being prosecuted for.  Unfortunately, you get little to no opportunities to 'interview' your public defender. Although you can get a new public defender if you are not comfortable with the one appointed, it is not simple and you are not going to get to speak to multiple and choose like you would with hiring a private attorney.    

Advantages of a Private Attorney

The advantages of hiring a private attorney are numerous.  To start, you get to choose your private attorney.  You can look at their credentials, ask how long they have been a criminal defense attorney, ask their success rate and their experience handling matters like yours.  If you don't like them, then you move onto the next one until you find someone who you are comfortable with.  

Experience.  Experience is often a key area.  It is very common for private attorneys to have many more years of experience than the average public defender.  It is actually quite common for private defense attorneys to get their start at the public defenders office.  At Starks Law, our lead criminal defense attorney has over 25+ years of experience.  That is something that would be hard to find at a public defenders office and definitely something you cannot request as you are just given whoever is available.  

Time is the next largest plus for a private attorney.  A private attorney carries a case load much smaller than a public defender.  This is to ensure that ample time, care and attention is given to each and every criminal matter being handled.  This ensures the highest chance that any available defense will be found and applied.  

Disadvantages of a Private Attorney

This disadvantage to a private attorney is cost.  At least financial cost.  However, when thinking long term, it is logical to see that a public defender may, in the end, carry a cost much higher.  The wrong, misapplied or overlook defense to your criminal prosecution could carry a cost in the form of your loss of freedom and a hefty financial loss.  

Consultations are Free at Starks Law

In conclusion, if you would like to speak to an attorney for free, all you have to do is give us a call.  We offer everyone a free, no obligation telephone consultation to go over your legal matter.  From there, we can help build a plan of action to put you on a road to a successful and effective defense.


Give us a call today or use the form below to schedule a call back.