“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Sound familiar? That is a piece of the Miranda Rights a police officer recites upon an arrest. The provided attorney in this portion refers to a public defender: a court-appointed attorney if you are unable to pay for your own. Even though free legal representation may sound nice, you should consider your options. There are plenty of advantages to hiring your own private attorney over accepting the help of a public defender. Read on to learn more about:
- The Main Differences Between a Maryland Public Defender and Criminal Defense Attorney;
- Benefits and Drawbacks to Hiring Either; and
- Why a Criminal Defense Attorney is Your Best Bet When Facing Down Charges.
Choosing Your Defense: Is There a Difference?
To answer the question, yes: there is a significant difference between hiring a public defender and a criminal defense attorney. But before we get into the ‘why,’ let’s go through the differences between a public and private defense attorney.
|A Public Defender…||A Private Criminal Defense Lawyer…|
|… works for the court and sees clients who cannot afford an attorney.||… works for a private firm and charges money for their services.|
|… may take on multiple cases at once and see up-to-hundreds per year.||… typically devote their time to one case at a time.|
|… may focus most of their efforts on striking a deal before trial with the prosecutor.||… allows you to have a say in your case’s progress and how you want to proceed.|
|… is the only person you may have defending you in your case.||… may have an entire team of associates and paralegals on your side for your case.|
Although the differences between a public defender and a criminal defense attorney may seem cut and dry, there are ups and downs to each you may not consider.
Examining Your Defense: Benefits and Drawbacks
There are situations where either lawyer will suit you best. For one, if you are unable to pay or have a certain amount of debt, a public defender may be your best option.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution entitles every citizen to legal assistance in the face of criminal charges—whether they can or cannot pay. Never shy away from taking the courts up on your constitutional rights!
With the amount of cases they see on a daily basis, public defenders are usually highly experienced working with a diverse set of clients. In addition, you can expect public defenders to have connections in the court system who may help in the process of securing a plea deal before moving to trial; this comes from both working cases and working at the courthouse.
However, some of the disadvantages already speak for themselves. For one, public defenders tend to take on a lot and don’t make nearly as much as private attorneys. This may lead to instances of a public defender not being able to meet with you ahead of your trial, not having as many opportunities to communicate your wishes with them, or settling for the first deal the prosecution suggests.
On the other hand, a private defense attorney may provide you with a more transparent, personalized, and aggressive defense for a higher price. Though a public defender may have their resources, a private attorney most likely has those same resources and more at their disposal. Chief among those resources is time: having the time to meet with you as much as possible helps your lawyer build their case over time. It also gives you a legal resource to answer questions and alleviate your legal anxieties. This is the upside of a private attorney many do not consider ahead of choosing their representation.
Though the most prevalent disadvantage may be the cost of a private attorney, paying for legal services is a very worthwhile investment. You should consider the ramifications of a potential “guilty” charge or, at the very least, an unfavorable plea deal. Is it worth spending time in jail or staying on parole for longer than necessary? If you have the money, paying for a private attorney should be a decision you heavily consider.
Nailing Down Your Defense: Why a Criminal Defense Attorney is the Right Choice for You
Facing criminal charges raises a number of problems when trying to get your life back on track: many of which can be solved by calling an attorney. When it comes to the question of which type of attorney, you may solve even more of your problems if you choose a private attorney.
We have touched on a lawyer’s “connections” and what that may do for your case. Plea Bargains are deals your attorney makes with the prosecution to reduce your sentence, sometimes eliminating jail time altogether (if applicable). Public defenders are capable of negotiating plea bargains, but you may reach a far more personalized deal.
Likewise, in the event you are sentenced, your private attorney will assist with changing your sentence or allowing for more leeway in your life post-prison. If they know your case, they may be the best person to help you appeal the sentence.
On the resource front, private attorneys don’t come unaccompanied. They will have associates ready to handle paperwork, experts in picking a jury, and colleagues to confer on strategy before the trial. Rather than it being a lone mission, go at it with a team.
If you are looking for a personalized legal experience, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Our lawyers have a proven track record of dedicated service to their clients throughout the entirety of the legal process. They are compassionate, experienced, and respected professionals who look out for the best interests of those who may otherwise get a raw deal. Do not wait: reach out to get the best representation possible!