Pros and Cons of Public Defenders
In the unfortunate event that you are arrested for a serious crime and are facing penalties that threaten your liberty, such as jail time, you’ll need to carefully consider hiring an experienced defense attorney. While you may be thinking “I can’t afford an attorney, so I’ll just plead guilty,” you need to ensure your best interests are protected in court. Public defenders, while free, often don’t offer the same advantages as private attorneys. Before you decide about whether or not to hire an attorney, check out the following pros and cons of public defenders.
Lots of Cases
Public defenders often have several cases at one time (sometimes as high as 100). On one hand, this means they will be extremely efficient when dealing with your case and your court ordeal may end sooner. On the other hand, your case may take longer if your attorney has scheduling conflicts or your case is pushed back for a more serious case, such as a murder.
Minimal Face Time
If you don’t want the hassle of lots of face-to-face meetings with your attorney, than a public defender may be right for you. Public defenders are so busy with lots of cases, they often only meet with their clients just minutes before entering a plea or getting ready for trial. Private attorneys take less cases and are able to spend more time on each case, which includes utilizing their network of private investigators and expert witnesses.
Civil Proceedings and Administrative Hearings Are Handled Separately
Unlike private attorneys, public defenders cannot represent you for any civil proceeding or administrative hearing that may be related to your case. For example, if you were charged with DUI, you’ll need to hire a private attorney to represent you during a driver’s license suspension hearing.
So Which Should You Choose?
There are many excellent public defenders but they face unique challenges that private attorneys don’t. If you’re still uncertain, ask a private attorney for a free consultation. They can answer many of your questions and determine the best ways to build you a solid defense. Many also offer flexible payment options and even credit programs to assist you.