If you have limited income and are facing criminal charges, then you probably qualify for the appointment of a public defender. While this might save you the cost of hiring an attorney to represent you, you have to ask yourself if a public defender is the right choice for your criminal defense. While these attorneys are competent, they may not be able to provide you with the advocacy you want and deserve.
Is going with a public defender risky?
Honestly, it’s hard to say. There are plenty of experienced public defenders who are aggressive in the courtroom. But the truth of the matter is that when it comes to being appointed a public defender, you left with the luck of the draw. Here are some of the dangers with settling for that approach:
- High caseloads: It’s no secret that public defenders are overworked and underpaid. Since they carry so many cases, oftentimes their focus is on managing their caseload rather than individual cases. The faster they can resolve cases the faster they can clear them and keep their caseload as manageable as possible. This might mean that your case doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, and you might be pushed to resolve your case in a way that might not be best for you.
- Inexperience: While there are some highly qualified public defenders, many of them are fresh out of law school and working as an attorney for the first time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it could mean that your case and your future is left in the hands of an attorney who doesn’t know the best way to advocate for you, whether that’s attacking witness credibility, utilizing the rules of evidence to exclude evidence, or leveraging a favorable plea bargain.
- Lack of personalized attention: As we mentioned, public defenders handle a lot of cases, meaning limited face time with each client. A private attorney, on the other hand, isn’t confined as much. A private attorney is much more likely to devote time to you and your case so that you can have the best criminal defense If you want to be able to reach your attorney on short notice, then a private criminal defense lawyer might be your best option.
Choosing someone to represent you might seem like a technicality if you qualify for a public defender, but your decision can actually have a profound impact on the outcome of your case. That’s why you need to weigh your options carefully and only pick when you know which one is right for you.