Should You Choose a Public Defender or Hire Your Own Criminal Defense Lawyer?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense

When you are arrested for a crime, your first step should always be to call your lawyer – if you have one, that is. In most cases, those who are arrested don’t exactly have a criminal defense lawyer on speed dial, but that doesn’t change the fact that they will need one if they want to prove their innocence or limit what could be a very serious punishment. However, when you are seeking representation for a criminal case, you are faced with two choices when it comes to legal representation. Do you get a public defender or hire your own criminal defense lawyer?

Public Defenders

If you cannot afford a lawyer, then upon your first court hearing the judge will ask if you would like a court-appointed one. These lawyers, known as public defenders, are dedicated legal officials that will represent your case.

There is a long-standing misconception, thanks in no small part to the media, that public defenders are newbies trying to cut their teeth or otherwise sub-par lawyers. However, that’s not true. Often public defenders are very well-versed in the criminal defense system and some of the best lawyers around. They have represented hundreds, if not thousands of cases and are very familiar with every judge and how they tend to rule. This can easily work to your advantage.

However, there is one common representation of public defenders that is true – they have a huge case load. While public defenders are skilled lawyers, as so many people cannot afford the representation of a private criminal defense attorney, they often have a lot of cases going on at once. This means your case will not get the kind of undivided attention that you may get with private attorneys.

Private Criminal Defense Attorneys

While not true in every aspect, in terms of your legal defense, you get what you pay for. While the lawyer that advertises themselves as the best in town and charges a ridiculous hourly rate may not indeed be the best lawyer you can get, with private criminal defense attorneys you are paying for their dedication to your case.

When you choose to hire a criminal defense attorney opposed to just randomly getting a public defender, you are paying so that you feel like your case has their undivided attention. They will have time to sit down with you, go over and gather evidence as well as craft a custom defense strategy rather than just a sweeping one that often ignores some finer details present in your case due to any time constraints a public defender may have.

Which to Choose?

If you are of relative means, you cannot simply choose to be cheap in order to get free legal counsel. In Minnesota, you need to meet the financial eligibility in order to be assigned a public defender. In order to do this, you should gather your financial documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, or any governmental assistance documents you have to prove that you cannot support hiring a lawyer to a judge.

This means that there really isn’t a choice between a public defender and a private criminal defense attorney unless your income level is right at that line in which it could go either way. Yet, a lot of people sit at that particular delicate income level. In these situations, it really is beneficial to choose a private criminal attorney simply because of the quality of legal representation that you receive.

If you have committed a crime in Minnesota and are facing serious punishments, contact us today. Let the lawyers at Villaume & Schiek represent your interests to the fullest and make sure you only face the minimum punishments.

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