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What is the Difference Between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney for a Criminal Case?

If you’re facing criminal charges, you’re probably overwhelmed, scared, and not sure what to do next. You may be getting advice from all sides—hire a private attorney, ask the court for a public defender, or handle your own defense. How do you know whom to trust?

First, know that you absolutely should have an attorney during your criminal case. Learn more about the differences between public defenders and private attorneys, and when you’re ready to get the defense you deserve, call Holcomb & Russell at 228-206-5843.

What is a Public Defender?

Everyone has the right to a defense against criminal accusations. However, not everyone can afford an attorney. That is why public defenders exist. They step in when someone cannot afford an attorney but still needs counsel. Public defenders are appointed by the court, and they tend to have incredibly large caseloads. As they are employed by the court and often work long hours, they may have a vested interest in settling cases to avoid the cost and time spent in court.

What is a Private Attorney?

A private defense attorney does not work for the government or the court system. They work for a private law firm (or own their own firm) and thus have complete freedom over which cases they do or do not take. This means that their schedule could be considerably lighter than a public defender’s, as they aren’t forced to take cases above and beyond what they can reasonably handle.

Since a private attorney is not a government or court employee, they are not focused on doing what is right for the court. If a case will go better for their client in court, they are more likely to take that route, rather than pushing a plea deal just to avoid time spent in court.

How Both Types of Lawyers Handle Their Clients’ Cases

As you may expect, public defenders and private attorneys often take radically different approaches to cases. Public defenders often focus on speed as a matter of necessity. With a large caseload and more cases coming up every single day, they must work to ensure plea deals to avoid overloading themselves with court appearances. As a result, even if it isn’t in the client’s best interest to take a plea deal that the prosecutor is offering, they may encourage them to take the deal.

Private attorneys have a lot more flexibility in their approach to cases. They know what the possible outcomes are of a case and which path is most likely to secure a fair outcome for their client. Since their loyalty isn’t split between clients and the court, they can focus exclusively on what is best for their clients.

Deciding What is Best for You

Only you can decide which path is better for you. It’s important to note, though, that you can’t just request a public defender because a private attorney isn’t in your budget. You must prove to the court that you are indigent and truly cannot afford an attorney based on their calculations. This means that many people who think they can’t pay for an attorney actually do not qualify for a public defender.

You may want to consider how a criminal conviction would affect your future, including your career, your family, and your reputation. While paying for a private attorney may cost money, so does being convicted of a crime. In addition to the fine you have to pay, you’ll have to pay a long list of court fees and penalties, court expenses, and other unanticipated costs that will significantly impact your finances.

You deserve a fair shot at getting your charges dropped or reduced. Find an attorney that is willing to put in the work and fight for you.

Find Out How Holcomb & Russell Can Help You With Your Criminal Charges

The sooner you reach out to a criminal defense attorney after an arrest, the sooner they can start building your case and exploring your legal options. The team at Holcomb & Russell is committed to helping you protect your rights and your future. Get in touch online or call us at 228-206-5843 to schedule a free consultation and plan your next steps.

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