Public Defender vs Private Attorney

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, you might be considering whether to rely on a public defender or hire a private attorney. It’s crucial to understand that not everyone qualifies for the services of a public defender. Only individuals who cannot afford legal representation are entitled to public defenders. This means that many employed individuals do not have the option to work with a public defender. To apply for a public defender, you must complete a financial affidavit detailing your financial situation. A judge reviews this affidavit to determine your eligibility. If you meet the requirements, the judge will appoint a public defender.

It’s important to note that when working with a public defender, you don’t get to choose your attorney; you are assigned one. Additionally, you may be required to pay a fee for their services.


The primary difference most people notice between a public defender and a private defense attorney lies in communication and availability. Public defenders often bear heavy workloads, leaving them with limited time for client communication. Consequently, you might only have the opportunity to speak with your public defender on the day of your court appearances.

In contrast, private defense attorneys have the freedom to select the number of clients they handle. This allows them to allocate sufficient time for communication. They ensure that you are well-informed about all aspects of your case before your hearings. This personalized attention can be immensely beneficial when navigating an unfamiliar legal process. Moreover, private defense attorneys are typically more accessible through prompt responses to calls and emails. Some even provide their clients with a cell phone number for quick text-based communication.

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Another significant advantage of hiring a private defense attorney is the ability to choose your legal representation. If you opt for a public defender, you are assigned an attorney and cannot switch to a different one easily. In the event that you are dissatisfied with your public defender, your only option is to fire the entire public defender’s office.

When you hire a private defense attorney, you have the freedom to select the attorney you believe is the best fit for your case. This empowers you to choose someone with the desired level of knowledge and experience. Furthermore, you can ask questions and gather information about the attorney’s methods and approach before making your decision. For instance, you can inquire about the involvement of other lawyers, paralegals, or legal assistants within the firm working on your case.


A private attorney has a personal stake in the outcome of your case because the success of their practice depends on client satisfaction. Conversely, public defenders will always have a steady stream of clients, regardless of the outcomes they achieve. According to a study of over 5,200 cases, the results obtained by public defenders differ significantly from those achieved by private defense attorneys. The study revealed that individuals represented by public defenders are more likely to receive jail sentences. In contrast, those represented by private attorneys, on average, received jail sentences three years shorter than those represented by public defenders.

If you are facing criminal charges, it’s crucial to seek legal expertise. Look no further than Garrity Traina for professional advice and support. Consulting with an experienced attorney can ensure that you have the best possible chance for a positive outcome.

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