Free Consultation (970) 485-2261

What Are the Differences Between a Private Attorney and Public Defender?

Posted on August 5, 2023

When individuals find themselves facing legal charges, they often have two main options for representation: hiring a private attorney or being assigned a public defender. Both options aim to provide effective legal assistance but differ in several key aspects.

Private Attorney: Tailored Expertise

When you choose a private attorney, you are investing in personalized attention and tailored expertise. Private attorneys often have the flexibility to select their cases and clients, allowing them to focus on specific areas of law where they excel. This means that if you are facing charges for a drug crime, you can hire a private Breckenridge criminal defense attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in that field.

Public Defender: A Pillar of Justice

Public defenders play a crucial role in the legal system, providing representation to individuals who cannot afford private attorneys. They are dedicated legal professionals who often work with heavy caseloads, advocating for their clients’ rights and navigating complex legal landscapes. While public defenders might not have the same level of specialization as private attorneys, they often have experience and a deep understanding of the criminal justice system.

Freedom to Choose

Hiring a private attorney gives you more control over the selection process, allowing you to choose an attorney who aligns with your specific legal needs and preferences. Whereas, when it comes to public defenders, the court will assign one to your case. In some cases, you may be able to request a new public defender. However, you need a reason to fire them and must write a letter to the judge in your case or contact the public defender’s office. There must be a good reason, or your request will be denied.

Cost and Accessibility

One of the most significant differences between private attorneys and public defenders is the cost. Private attorneys typically charge fees for their services, which can vary greatly depending on their reputation, experience, and the complexity of the case. This cost can be a deterrent for some individuals, making private representation more accessible to those with financial means. However, the expense can often be justified by the level of personalized attention and potential outcomes that a private attorney can provide.

Caseload and Time Constraints

One of the challenges public defenders face is the high volume of cases they handle. Due to limited resources and overwhelming demand, public defenders might have less time to dedicate to individual cases. This can affect the depth of investigation, preparation, and attention that can be given to each client. Private attorneys usually have a smaller caseload, giving them the advantage of dedicating more time and resources to each case, resulting in a thorough investigation, strategizing, and preparation for trial.

Confidentiality and Personal Investment

Working with a private attorney often comes with an added layer of confidentiality. Private discussions between you and your attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege, allowing for open and honest communication. This level of privacy can foster a sense of trust and encourage clients to share important details that might impact their cases. On the other hand, public defenders also maintain a duty of confidentiality. Still, the workload and demands of the job might limit the amount of personal attention that can be provided.

For a free consultation with a Breckenridge criminal defense attorney, contact JB Katz, P.C. today.