Public Defenders vs Private Criminal Lawyers: Which Is Right For You

When a citizen faces criminal charges, they will need an attorney to help them through the process. Under the U.S. Constitution, defendants have the right to counsel. When your Miranda Rights are cited, there is the portion that may have captured your attention: “if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

The court will assign a public defender to your case if you can’t afford an attorney. However, if you want better chances of getting your charges dismissed or lowering your sentence, the best thing to do would be to hire a private criminal lawyer. Learn more here.

Let’s see the differences between public and private lawyers and see which one is right for your case.

Public Defenders

Utah has assigned criminal defense services for the poor to the counties. In this situation, each county has the power to decide the budget and, therefore, the quality of legal care, which varies significantly from region to region.

However, you don’t want to take this chance when convicted. Apart from this, public defenders work on a bidding system. This means that regardless of experience, the lowest bidder takes the case, which may be yours, and public defenders can take as many clients as possible. Using a public defender for your case has several disadvantages.

The public defender isn’t compensated for anything apart from your basic representation. Therefore, they don’t have the drive or obligation to visit you in jail or hire expert witnesses.

Since public defenders receive a “fixed” rate for all cases they take in a year, they won’t be able to take care of your case properly since they will deal with countless cases. The attorney won’t represent you on related civil/administrative issues, such as a suspended license hearing.

Private Lawyers

Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer comes with many benefits, mainly that the attorney can dedicate time and attention to your case. Some law firms even offer free or paid consultations to assess your situation and how strong your case is.

They can visit your jail when necessary to brief you on your situation and progress, hire expert witnesses to testify in your case, and be by your side in civil or administrative hearings. All the meetings will be much easier in comparison to a public defender. A private lawyer can strike plea deals with the prosecutors, ensuring you receive a lesser punishment. 

Another great advantage is your ability to choose your lawyer instead of receiving a random one. Some criminal defense lawyers might be specialized in your particular case, increasing your chances of getting a reduced sentence or having your charges dropped entirely.

Private Lawyers vs. Public Defenders Conclusion

The answer is obvious if you want legal representation in Utah and have to choose between a public defender and a private lawyer. However, you should note that the comparison between the two has nothing to do with a lack of skill or desire to give you the best results.

It is simply a matter of overwork and time. Public defense lawyers have many cases, and they simply can’t afford the same care, attention, and devotion as private lawyers. 

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