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The Difference Between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney

If you face any legal charges, it is important to learn the difference between two types of attorneys, the public defender and the private attorney. The type of crime and severity of the charges can play a critical role in the type of attorney that will best meet your needs.

What is a Public Defender?

A public defender is a lawyer employed at public expense in a criminal trial. Their primary role is to represent a defendant who cannot afford private legal assistance. In films and crime TV, most of us have heard the phrase, “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you,” referring to the appointment of a public defender. Typically, a public defender’s role is to represent those who cannot pay for traditional legal counsel.

There is a significant misconception that public defenders aren’t good lawyers since they work for “free,” but this is rarely the case. They are still paid by the government and must attend the same law schools and pass the same bar exams every other attorney must. Most often, public defenders work in the district courthouse and have extremely large workloads with less time to devote to individual cases, which is the primary drawback to relying on a public defender in a complicated case or one involving serious charges.

What is a Private Attorney?

On the other hand, a private attorney is employed by an individual rather than by the government. When you meet with a private attorney, it is typically in their private office. Additionally, private attorneys have the luxury of selecting the cases they will take; therefore, they maintain control over the type and number of cases in their workload at any given time. A private attorney can devote more resources to your case since you are paying them directly. They also have the connections and ability to bring in expert witnesses and provide additional staff such as paralegals and associate attorneys to dedicate time to your case as needed.

Need a Private Criminal Defense Attorney? We Can Help!

When the charges are such that they could drastically impact your life, livelihood, or future as most criminal charges can then it is likely time to seek a private criminal defense attorney. You want to find the best person to defend you, an attorney who has the time to get to know their clients and the details of their case. If you are currently weighing your options and cannot decide between a public defender or a private attorney, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Please reach out to our office so we can schedule a consultation to discuss the options and how we can help ensure your case receives the best possible result.