Should I Use An Appointed Public Defender or Hire A Paid Lawyer?

If you simply cannot find a way to finance a private attorney, then you have few options other than to use the services of the public defender. But generally speaking, there are a lot of disadvantages to using a public defender over a private attorney.

  1. The case load for a typical public defender in Okaloosa County or Walton County is enormous. For a single assistant public defender in a misdemeanor or felony division, they may have 100-400 open cases at any given time. As a private attorney, I can control the number of cases I handle in order to make sure to provide the best level of representation for each individual client.
  2. Representing a client is what I do, period. But in the macro sense, a public defender is tasked with representing a caseload, and managing the number of cases on their docket. This means different objectives and goals in order to facilitate case resolution, and with that usually comes with different expectations in terms of case results. And truth be told, this mentality extends to prosecutors and some Judges.
  3. Generally speaking, a private attorney that only practices criminal law will be more experienced that a public defender right out of law school. However, in felony cases, there are only a handful of experienced attorneys even in the private sector. I’m talking about +3000 or more felony cases.
  4. You don’t get to pick your lawyer if you go with a public defender or appointed counsel. With all criminal defense attorneys, some of clearly better than others, and with some, you may be better off representing yourself. In hiring a private attorney, you get to choose who will represent you in your case and that gives you more control and more confidence in the result.
  5. The Public Defender’s Office will normally require you to attend any and all court dates, including arraignment and pre-trial hearings. This may be a problem if you live out of town, need to work, or if court attendance is otherwise inconvenient.

Do you want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer for free about your situation and what I can do about it? Then call me at (850) 362-6655.