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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2013

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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