If you’re facing criminal charges, you should have an attorney. There are two types of attorneys who defend cases like this – private defense attorneys and public defenders. The court provides public defenders for people who can’t afford a private attorney. Some people end up having a choice between the two (although if the court says can afford a private attorney that’s likely your only option). So, if you have a choice, which is better?
We argue that a private attorney is ideal. Why? It’s not that they’re better lawyers. Private defense attorneys and public defenders can be equally great at what they do. Or equally bad for that matter. In other words, it’s not about skill. And it’s not necessarily about experience, either.
The reason we recommend private defense attorneys over public defenders is because of time and resources. A private attorney has more of both. They are being paid by their client, often by the hour, so you get as much of their time as you pay for. With a public defender, they are not paid by their clients, and they tend to have more cases than a private attorney. Not all public defenders are overworked, but many are. The same goes for pay. Public defenders generally aren’t paid as well as private attorneys. A private law firm therefore has more resources (time and money) to devote to your case, for things such as research, interviews and investigation.
These reasons don’t hold true in every situation, which is why we always recommend getting a consultation to get to know the attorney you might be hiring. Make sure your private defense attorney focuses on criminal law and appears often in the courthouse where your case is being heard. They should have good relationships with the judges and prosecutors there. If you have questions about what to look for in a criminal defense attorney, you can read more about it here.