The Difference Between a Public Defender and Private Attorney
Many people are confused about the difference between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney.
Understanding the differences and similarities between Public Defenders and Private Attorneys could be critical not only to your livelihood legally, but also financially.
A Public Defender is an attorney who is appointed by the court to defend an individual who does not have the financial means to hire their own attorney. Rather than being paid by the client they are defending, Public Defenders are paid by the Government for their services.
A Private Attorney is an attorney who is hired and paid by clients who they represent in court. They often have their own law practice or work at a law practice and are retained by individuals who are facing crimes and can afford an attorney. Some argue that Private Attorneys are more motivated to win cases, due to the fact that oftentimes their pay depends upon the success of their clients’ cases.
There is a common misconception that Public Defenders are underqualified compared to Private Lawyers. Public Defenders and Private Attorneys are held to the same level of requirements and standards. Just because an attorney is a public defender, that does not mean that they are not skilled or qualified– they are just interested in providing a service to those who are struggling both legally and financially.
While Private Attorneys can personally manage the number of clients that they are currently representing, Public Defenders are at times assigned numerous clients by the court, potentially making their caseloads heavy or difficult to manage. This is a concern for some clients, who want a personalized experience with their lawyers and to feel that their lawyers are only focusing on their case. That being said, the same can happen for Private Attorneys. Some Private Attorneys hardly participate in a case’s development other than making face time– they may have Junior Associates or even Law School Students who take care of the day to day aspects of the case for them.
Ultimately, the key in this situation is to understand what you want out of an attorney and to ask the right questions of them, such as “Who will be appearing with me in court?”, “Are you the one who will be handling my paperwork, or do you give that to assistants?” etc. Public Defenders and Private Attorneys can both be incredibly effective and helpful in court. In that same vein, however, both can be equally ineffective in court. It all depends upon the individual attorney and what your needs are. Public Defenders and Private Attorneys are a varying group, just like professionals in any other line of work, and therefore it is important to understand who you are going to work with and fully articulate your goals and expectations.
Many people have questions about the difference between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney and which option is right for them.
After arraignment, if I chose to have a public defender, can I hire an attorney if the public defender is insufficient?
If you are thinking about hiring a private attorney, it would be worth getting a consultation about your case before the arraignment date. A lot of attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you decide not to hire a private attorney before the arraignment, you can later hire a private attorney and have that attorney “sub-in” as attorney of record.
This answer pertains to individuals in the State of California.
Location: Sherman Oaks, Ca
Phone: (818) 336-1384