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Private Criminal Defense Attorney Versus Public Defenders

Private Criminal Defense Attorney Versus Public Defenders

The Miranda Warning states that any accused person has the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford one, the state will provide one. Public defenders—lawyers appointed to those who cannot afford one—might be free, but that doesn’t mean they are the best option. According to an article published by PBS, “In the most populous counties, 71 percent of publicly defended clients were incarcerated compared to 54 percent represented by private counsel.”

That said, here is a quick breakdown that highlights some advantages and disadvantages of private lawyers and public defenders.

Public Defenders

If you lack the necessary funds and cannot hire a private lawyer, a public defender is your next best option. Public defenders may be bogged down with work, but they will still do their best to get you a desirable outcome. Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of public defenders.


  • Free

Public Defenders are free. This can be an immense relief for someone who cannot afford an attorney.

  • Well-Rounded Experience

Public defenders have a lot of experience with different judges. They also have a lot of experience dealing with various cases. These two things can come in handy for different aspects of your trial.


  • Large Caseload

The number of public defenders is much smaller than needed. As such, many have a massive caseload and are often incredibly overworked.

  • Limited Time

Since public defenders are so busy with their caseloads, they do not have as much time to meet clients in advance. Sometimes, a public defender may only meet a specific client minutes before the trial begins. When compared to a private lawyer, public defenders will have less time to research, formulate, and present the best defense.

  • Randomly Appointed

You do not get to assign your own attorney—this is one of the biggest issues people have with public defenders. Trusting a complete stranger is hard; trusting a complete stranger with your freedom is even harder.

Private Lawyers

Hiring a criminal defense attorney is one of the best things you can do for your case. Private lawyers will take the time to figure out the best way to help you—you are their priority. You will find just a few advantages and disadvantages of private lawyers listed below.


  • Small Caseload

The great thing about private lawyers is how they get to pick and choose their cases. This allows them to focus on a single client and take the time to research and formulate a winning argument.

  • Good Availability

Since they have a smaller caseload there is more time for them to talk and meet if you have any questions. They are easier to contact than public defenders and make sure to be there for you.

  • More Resources

More money means more availability to resources—and, generally speaking, private lawyers make more money than public defenders.


  • Expensive

Private lawyers can be quite expensive. The price will vary widely and depend on the type of charge you face as well as the work that they will have to undertake. If the case is serious, you can expect to pay your lawyer a substantial amount of money. Some of the best things in life might be free, but no amount of money is too much when it comes to your trial.

If you face criminal charges or have been falsely accused, contact a criminal defense attorney in Clackamas County—contact Jared Justice.

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