If my 19-year-old son was arrested for possession of ecstasy, do I need to pay for a private attorney or could a public defender adequately handle the case?

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If my 19-year-old son was arrested for possession of ecstasy, do I need to pay for a private attorney or could a public defender adequately handle the case?

He has no prior convictions and it appears he is eligible for the deferred entry of judgment program.

Asked on November 26, 2014 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

First of all, getting a public defender is NOT guaranteed; if you son has the resources to pay for an attorney of his own, he is expected to get one. Only if he truly *cannot* afford his own lawyer will one be provided.

Second, a private attorney is better. That's not to take anything away from public defenders, who are hard-working, dedicated, and generally good lawyers; but it is to acknowledge that the public defender's office is overworked, underpaid, and under-resourced. They can't spend as much time on each case as they should, whether in terms of legal research, interviewing witnesses, tracking down evidence, etc. A private attorney will be able to devote more time, effort, and attention to your son's case.


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