Differences between a Public Defender vs. Private Attorney

Explore Your Options with the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C.

Part of your rights as a citizen of the United States is that you are entitled to legal counsel, although the option is technically open for you to simply plead guilty. However, choosing to take on your charges and just plead guilty without the help of an attorney is highly inadvisable. Though you might feel like it is the cheaper route or the only option available to you, you could potentially save money in the long run if your legal help can get your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Pleading guilty gives up all hope you might have on a positive outcome. Retaining an attorney at least gives you the best chance possible at a better outcome financially, emotionally, and legally.

If you decide that pleading guilty is not for you and that you want to fight your charges to the best of your ability, you will be faced with a decision: to choose a public defender or private attorney.

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Let’s take a look at the differences and benefits below. Feel free to contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. to learn more. For client convenience, we offer free consultations!

How Does a Public Defender Get Appointed?

After an individual is arrested, he or she must appear before a judge in an arraignment. During this time, the judge will ask the defendant if he or she is able to afford an attorney and complete a sworn statement that lists their financial situation, such as income, debt and assets. If significant financial hardship is present, an attorney will be appointed to you, either from the public defender’s office or from an approved list of private attorneys.

Disadvantages of Hiring a Public Defender

While better than nothing, a public defender might not be your best option. Because a public defender is appointed to you, you do not have much of a say in the quality of legal service that you receive. You do not know whether your lawyer will have years of experience or just be starting out, for example.

The disadvantages of a public defender may include the following and more:

  • Not enough attention on your case, because they are handling many cases at a time.
  • Limited time to speak with the public defender, ask questions, or tell your side of the story.
  • No opportunity to avoid an initial license suspension at a DMV hearing.
  • Potential for further expenses down the road if your charges are not dropped or reduced.

If you are dealing specifically with a DUI case, it is important to understand that a public defender cannot represent you at a DMV administrative per se hearing. This means that you will have your license suspended initially.

Benefits of Hiring a Private Attorney

At the very least, hiring a private attorney gives you the freedom of choice. You can choose an attorney with a respectable level of experience, with the personality and communication style you feel comfortable with, and in a price range that you can manage.

A private attorney offers the following benefits and more:

  • A private attorney has fewer clients and can spend more time on your case.
  • A private attorney is able to attend and defend your rights in a DMV hearing.
  • A private attorney is typically more accessible and can answer all of your questions.
  • A private attorney may have access to more resources than the typical public defender.

Overall, a private attorney will be more motivated to obtain positive results and provide you with a helpful experience because he or she will want to maintain their business and reputation.

What to Look for in a Private Attorney

If you are leaning towards hiring a private attorney, it’s good to have a list that you can use to help evaluate your options. While a private attorney can offer many benefits, you still want to filter through potential attorneys to find one that meets your needs.

Keep these criteria in mind when looking for a private attorney:

  • How many years of experience does the attorney have?
  • How many cases has the attorney handled?
  • Does your attorney have trial experience?
  • Does the attorney have specialized training in a particular field?
  • Does the attorney focus on one practice area?
  • Does the attorney openly communicate with you?
  • Has the attorney received awards and positive testimonials over the years?

In addition, you’ll want to ask questions about pricing, payment options, and other logistical issues that fit your circumstances.

Our Approach to Each Case

At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., our attorney provides an aggressive defense for clients facing a wide array of criminal and DUI charges. With nearly 15 years of legal experience and thousands of cases handled, Attorney Zelig is an established force in Santa Rosa and the greater Sonoma County area.

We handle each case with the utmost attention to detail and commitment to excellence:

  • We are available 24/7 to take your calls.
  • We offer free case evaluations to get you started off on the right foot.
  • We work to minimize stress by communicating openly throughout the process.
  • We appear in court on your behalf, if your presence is not necessary.
  • We accept all major credit cards and can arrange payment plans, if needed.
  • We are located minutes from the Sonoma County Hall of Justice and Jail Detention Facilities.

From start to finish, we take a proactive, aggressive approach to your case and investigate all avenues available that can lead to getting your charges reduced or dismissed.

Call a Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consult!

Due to his track record of success and commitment to excellence, Attorney Evan Zelig has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including selection for Super Lawyers® Rising Stars and the Client Distinction Award for ethical, communicative service.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal options!

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