The Differences Between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney
When you are charged with a crime, one of the first decisions you must make is whether to retain the services of a private criminal defense attorney or a public defender. The decision to choose between a public defender and private counsel should not be panic driven.
It’s critical to recognize that the judicial system in Alabama assigns public defenders at random. You will be stuck with whoever is assigned to your case, irrespective of their competence or commitment level. The stakes for your life and future are far too high when you are charged with a crime.
Therefore, it is always prudent to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Alabama who has the legal skills and resources, and commitment to fight for your rights.
Who is a Public Defender?
In Alabama criminal courts, a public defender is an attorney appointed by the court to offer legal counsel to the defendant at a reduced rate. In some cases, the representation may also be free of charge. However, it is important to understand that the representation is limited to individuals that are indigent. This means their income is below the state guidelines and are unable to retain private counsel.
Public defenders are in great demand and are often burdened with a high volume of cases. It is normal for public defenders to have dozens of cases at any given court session.
Due to the enormous caseloads, public defenders don’t always have the time they would like to devote to individual cases. In effect, your case may just become one of the many in a pile of files.
Private Attorney vs. Public Defender: Accessibility and Communication
Accessibility and communication are key areas of difference between a private defense attorney and a public defender. Public defenders are too often overworked. They are forced to take on too many cases. This causes them to spend most of their time in court leaving little room for communicating with their clients and their family members.
In many cases, a defendant gets to speak with their public defender only on the day of the court appearance. In contrast, an experienced and reputable private lawyer will make sure they have enough time to research the case and inform their clients about any updates. This can be a huge benefit for many when navigating an unfamiliar legal process.
In addition, a private defense lawyer will also be available to answer any questions or concerns through emails and telephone in a prompt manner. It is best that you work with a private attorney who is easy to get a hold of so that you can reach them whenever you have questions or concerns.
Difference of Choice Between Public Defenders and Private Attorneys
You will be asked to fill out a financial eligibility form when applying for a public defender. You do not have a say on the attorney being appointed. The worst part is that you are stuck with the court-appointed attorney even if you doubt their legal skills or if they did something to cause a personal dislike.
You have more freedom to choose the type of lawyer you want when you go with a private attorney. It’s critical to note that you always have the ability to fire the public defender’s office, but you may not be able to switch to another court-appointed attorney.
With a private defense attorney, you get to choose exactly who you want to work on your case. You can choose someone with the level of experience and knowledge you require. You can also inquire directly about the number of legal assistants, paralegals, and lawyers working the case among other things.
Access to Resources and a Network
It’s unlikely that an underpaid and overworked public defender will want to arrange a meeting and brainstorm a defense strategy. In most cases, defendants get a few minutes before the court appearance to consult with their public defender. Private attorneys have the time and available resources to help their clients.
They can hire expert witnesses, draft legal memorandum to bolster the defense, and access lab and testing facilities. With so much at stake during a criminal defense, it is hard to put a price on the attention and experience that a private attorney brings to the table.
Proven Results with Private Criminal Defense Attorneys in Alabama
Private lawyers have a personal stake in the results of the case since they won’t get new clients if they don’t do a good job for their existing ones. Whereas, public defenders always have clients regardless of the type of outcomes they win for their clients.
As per a study involving 5,200 cases, it was found that individuals represented by a private attorney were far less likely to serve jail time as compared to those represented by a court-appointed attorney. In addition, convicts represented by private attorneys received sentences that were 3 years shorter as compared to the ones with public defenders.
Get a Free Case Evaluation from Our Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a criminal offense and requires legal representation, the reputable attorneys at the Alsobrook Law Firm can help. Your freedom is invaluable, and you need a defense team that will leave no stone unturned to protect your rights.
Our criminal defense lawyers have helped numerous clients obtain successful resolutions after they were charged with a crime. Our team will work with a goal to have your charges dismissed or reduced as far as possible. To set up your free and confidential consultation, call 334-737-3718 or reach us online.