Legal Guide

Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Vs. Using a Public Defender

If you are faced with criminal charges, you have some decisions to make. You will need to decide what to plead, whether or not you take the punishment suggested by a prosecutor, and whether or not you should have a lawyer. You have two options for a lawyer, either a criminal defense lawyer in Sioux City or a public defender. There are pros and cons to both, and it is important to weigh the benefits. 

Public Defender

A public defender is a lawyer that the court appoints to your case. The public defender is appointed to a defendant who request one or who aren’t able to afford a private lawyer. The defendant will not have to pay for a public defender and get his or her own lawyer, which can be costly. Public defenders have worked on a variety of criminal cases and have the experience. They also work with prosecutors regularly and can have a good relationship in order to help a plea agreement go through. There are many disadvantages of being represented by a public defender, however. Since public defenders are government employees, they make less than private lawyers and have large caseloads. Public defenders are usually underpaid and overworked. Due to this, they may not have enough time to prepare your case and can make mistakes. Public defenders can handle as many as 590 cases in just one year, even though the American Bar Associations recommends that criminal defense attorneys only handle 150 cases in one year. They could be juggling hundreds of cases at one time and not have time to meet with clients. Sometimes a public defender only has a few minutes with the client before entering a plea. Public defenders want to plead out as many cases as they can in order to handle the big caseload since this means that the public defender doesn’t need to formulate a legal defense. You also don’t have a choice of a lawyer and you get whoever the court appoints for you. If you are not happy with the public defender then it can be hard to find a new one. 

Private Lawyer

A private criminal defense lawyer is one that you or your family selects and hires. The only disadvantage of working with a private lawyer is having to pay for the services. This can be a lot of money, especially if the case is serious. However, there are many advantages of having a private criminal defense lawyer that outweigh the costs of one. 

A private lawyer won’t have as many cases as a public defender. This means you get more one-on-one time. This time can be used to get to know the defendant and find information that can be helpful to the defense. Private lawyers can often find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to help get the case dismissed or have the charges reduced. Since the defendant is paying for the services as well as the related legal costs, there are also more resources that can help the defense. Expert testimony can be hired to explain key parts of the case. Private labs can be used to test evidence and private investigators may help find evidence that can also help the defense. Private attorneys also have staff, such as paralegals and associates, that can help with the case. You are able to contact your private lawyer by phone or in the office, but it can be much harder to contact a public defender with their caseload. When you hire a private lawyer, you are able to meet with the lawyer and determine if he or she is the right fit for your case, and you can decide on a different lawyer if you’d like. Since these lawyers aren’t appointed by the court, they want to make their clients happy in order to maintain their reputation and business. This can give private lawyers an incentive to do a better job. 

Should You Hire a Private Attorney?

The decision to hire a private lawyer mostly comes down to affordability. Many attorneys might be able to work with you and help you create a payment plan or have other sources of financing. While public defenders are good attorneys, the large caseload means that you won’t have the personal attention you need. It’s just not possible to provide adequate attention with so many cases. Criminal cases are important and there can be lifelong consequences if you are found guilty. Working with a private attorney can mean you have a better shot at getting a reduced sentence. This means it’s a smart choice for felony cases. Even though there are no guarantees in the legal field, especially when the outcome of the case depends on a jury, you can have better chances when you work with an experienced and well-respected attorney. 


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