Everyone at some point in time has seen a show or movie where the police officer says the Miranda Rights. He says the part that everyone knows about, “You have the right to remain silent,” and later on they will say, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” But what does that mean? Well, when they say this, they are actually referring to public defender. A public defender is a court appointed lawyer that will defend your case at no cost. Sounds great right? If you can get a lawyer for free why would anyone get a private lawyer? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about. The pros and cons for both.
The biggest benefit to a public defender is pretty obvious in that they do not cost the defendant any money. However, because of this fact, most public defenders have massive case loads and are often overworked and underpaid. The problem with this is that as a defendant, you would probably not get a lot of time one-on-one with you lawyer so they will not really get to know fully the ins-and-outs of your case. With that said, another benefit of the public defender is their connections. These lawyers work daily with the same judges and opposing council so they may have more insight into how a certain judge will lean in terms of a plea. The biggest downside however to getting a public defender is that you have no choice in who you are going to get and it can be a little scary putting your faith in someone you know nothing about.
To many a private lawyer would be considered a luxury but sometimes it can be worth it, if possible. The main pro to private lawyer is that they have the time to work with you and get to really know your case. With that information, they can either craft a strong legal defense or work to get you the best deal possible in terms of sentence. The main downside though, of course is money. Private lawyers can be prohibitively expensive with some costing several hundreds an hour.
With a decision like this, there is no wrong answer. Both have benefits and setbacks but it really comes down to what feels right for you.