Comparing Public Defenders to Private Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been arrested for a crime in Florida, you generally have two options as far as legal representation:
- Requesting a public defender to be appointed by the court; and
- Hiring a private Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney.
Of course, there is a lot more to the issue than simply presenting these alternatives. You must qualify for a public defender, the circumstances of your arrest might make one option more suitable, and you must consider all relevant factors. However, assuming you do have the choice, you have an important decision to make – one which could affect the outcome in your case. Analysts have determined that public defenders generally achieve less favorable outcomes, but they also admit that their findings could be a product of many variables.
As you weigh your decision, it may be helpful to understand the differences between a private lawyer versus public defender, and review some pros and cons.
Public Defender Representation
Individuals who cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney can request the court to appoint public defense counsel, but the qualifying criteria can be challenging. Still, if you are eligible, consider the following:
- Criminal defense is ALL these lawyers do, so they have extensive courtroom experience and knowledge of Florida criminal laws.
- Working with them every day, public defenders develop professional relationships with prosecutors. This level of trust can often smooth out plea agreements.
- Unfortunately, public defenders have enormous caseloads. Overworked lawyers tend to make more mistakes and have less time to spend with individual clients.
- Public defenders spend almost the entire workday in court, so they can be difficult to reach.
- You do not have your choice of attorney when the court appoints a public defender, and it can be difficult to make a switch once your case is underway.
Retaining Your Own Attorney
You DO get to choose your lawyer when you go the private route. To address the primary reason people do not hire their own attorney: Yes, you must pay, and representation can be costly with a serious, complicated felony case. However, there are many advantages you should understand when your rights and freedoms are at stake:
- Private lawyers have manageable caseloads, and many have support staff to assist with necessary legal tasks. You benefit from the attention to detail and to the client, and you will likely enjoy more one-on-one time in consultation with your attorney.
- It is often easier to be in regular communication with a criminal defense lawyer who has a designated office, staff, and paralegals.
- Private lawyers have access to extensive resources, including investigators, experts, and other professionals that will maximize your defense potential.
Consult with a Skilled Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing criminal charges and are considering how to move forward with legal counsel, this information should help you make your decision. To learn how our team assists defendants in a wide range of criminal cases, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed.