What Are the Benefits of a Private Attorney vs. a Public Defender?

August 1, 2020

When you’re accused of a crime, you will need the help of a skilled, experienced lawyer. While you can represent yourself in court, having a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the law—and how to build a case on your behalf—is crucial. For some people, a public defender will be their only option, while others may wish to hire a private attorney to guide them through the process. Is a private attorney better than a public defender in Tavares, FL? Read on for some more information to help you make a decision.

The difference between private attorneys and public defenders

As you probably know from watching shows like Law & Order, if you cannot afford an attorney (according to the court’s specific rules and regulations), one will be appointed for you. Those attorneys are the public defenders, and they handle everything from small misdemeanors to felony murder cases. Public defenders are hired and paid by the government as an important part of our justice system—the Constitution recognizes the absolute right to a competent defense. You do not have the right to choose which public defender you work with—they’re assigned to your case, and very likely have 30 or more other cases that they’re working on at the same time.
Private attorneys, meanwhile, are retained and paid by individuals. They have the choice whether they want to work with you, just as you have the choice to work with them. Their workloads are often less than a public defender’s, which means they will have more time to offer to you. While their fees don’t necessarily guarantee that they’re better attorneys, they generally are able to give you more personalized attention.

Should you hire a private attorney?

The choice between a private attorney and a public defender often comes down to affordability for most clients. Courts have specific budget and income thresholds that you need to fall below in order to qualify for a public defender, and if you exceed them, your only choice is to work with a private attorney. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry—many attorneys will work with you to create a payment plan or find other sources of financing.
Public defenders are good attorneys, but usually have a large case load that prohibits them from giving you extensive personal attention and research. All criminal cases are important, and most have serious, lifelong consequences if you’re found guilty. Hiring a private attorney is often a smart choice for felony accusations.
There are no guarantees in the legal profession, especially when your case’s outcome hinges on the judgment of a jury—but you can hedge your bets by hiring a well-respected, experienced attorney.
Are you in the market for a private criminal defense attorney? K.J. Law P.A. handles criminal defense cases as well as family law, mediation and other practice areas. We pride ourselves on fighting honestly and aggressively for our clients. Call us today to book a consultation or learn more about the benefits of hiring a private attorney in Tavares, FL.

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