How beneficial is it to hire a private attorney vs going with a court appointed public defender?

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How beneficial is it to hire a private attorney vs going with a court appointed public defender?

My boyfriend is currently in jail facing his 2nd violation on felony probation. The court approved him for a public defender but he wants me to hire a private lawyer. As much as we can’t exactly afford $1,000 retainer, I would do it if I knew it would possibly make the difference of him going to prison or not.

Asked on September 30, 2013 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It may make a difference. Public defenders can be quite good and experienced--though some are not; sometimes, for example, you get someone fresh out of lawschool--but the key factors are:

1) Public defenders are overworked: they do not have the personnel or resources in the public defenders' office to truly handle all the cases they get, so they each cover more cases then they should. This means they have less time to prepare, less time to research, spend less time getting to know their client and his case, etc.

2) A private attorney is generally more beholden to--and therefore responsive to--his/her clients, since he or she is paid by them.


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