This article is by Steven Raiser, a premier personal injury lawyer and criminal defense attorney. When an individual has been arrested, he or she has the right to an attorney. Defendants can choose to hire a criminal lawyer or be represented by a public defender who is appointed to them. If an individual is arrested, then it is imperative that he or she attain a trusted attorney who can represent them to the fullest.
What is a Criminal Defense Attorney?
A criminal defense attorney is a licensed lawyer who is hired to provide legal representation to individuals who are facing a criminal charge. A criminal defense attorney offers individuals who have been arrested the opportunity to have their case dismissed or charges lessened.
What is a Public Defender?
A public defender is also a licensed attorney who is assigned to provide legal representation to individuals who are arrested and facing criminal charges. Public defenders are provided to individuals who are facing criminal charges that are not able to afford to hire a private, retained lawyer.
There are different approaches mandated by jurisdictions to provide legal representation to criminal defendants who are not able to afford an attorney. Public defenders are government salaried employees because public defender offices are agencies of the local, state, or federal government.
What’s the Difference Between a Criminal Defense Attorney and a Public Defender?
The primary difference between a private criminal attorney and a public defender is the caseload. In most circumstances, public defenders are not able to provide their clients with the attention they need because they have so many cases to handle. There are some instances where a public defender’s caseload will reach 300 cases per year. Public defenders are also on tight budgets, so an individual may not be provided with valuable investigative resources and experts that individuals who hire criminal defense attorneys have access to.
A criminal defense attorney will make a client his or her priority. Private criminal attorneys are able to maintain a well-balanced caseload because they are not assigned to clients. They are not appointed by the court. Clients will seek their help for legal representation.
The Benefits of Hiring a Private Criminal Attorney
When an individual has been arrested and is facing a jail or prison sentence, it is imperative to carefully consider who will represent him or her in court. Many individuals may ask “Is a private criminal attorney better than a public defender?” Although they are both licensed attorneys, private criminal attorney have better resources and more time than public defenders.
According to a study that was published by the New York Times, the average sentence for individuals who are represented by public defenders is nearly 3 years longer than individuals who hire private criminal attorneys to represent them.
There are many advantages an indiviudal has when hiring a private criminal defense attorney, which include:
Private criminal attorneys can intervene early in the process and provide the prosecuting attorney with a defendant’s explanation of what occurred.
Caseloads are controlled by private criminal attorneys, so they are able to balance caseloads that enable them to provide clients with the attention that is needed for each case. A private criminal attorney will have more one on one time with clients as opposed to public defenders. The additional time private attorneys have with clients means they are able to get acquainted with their clients and can learn information that can help with the defense.
Expert witnesses can be attained by private criminal attorneys to explain important aspects of a case. A private criminal attorney can also hire a private laboratory to conduct tests on any evidence that may be used against a defendant during trial.
Private attorneys often have additional staff, such as paralegals and associates, who can help with the case. By having additional individuals working on a case, an individual has a better chance of having a solid defense.
When an indiviudal chooses to hire a private attorney, he or she has the power to select the attorney that will represent them in court. A public defender is appointed to an individual by the court, so an individual does not have the opportunity to choose who will represent them. If the public defender does not satisfy the defendant, then it is usually difficult to have another public defender appointed.
When an indiviudal is accused of a crime, there are many things at stake, which include family, reputation, and employment. The outcome an individual receives in the criminal justice system is dependent on the knowledge and expertise of the criminal defense lawyer that represents him or her in court. An experienced private criminal attorney will have less cases and will be able to devote a substantial amount of time to a clients needs, which will provide them with the best results.