If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may be wondering if you should choose a public defender or a private lawyer. Of course, if you are short on money or in a difficult financial situation hiring a public defender is the best choice for you. Keep in mind that the public defender is a licensed attorney. As in any group of professionals, some have more experience than others. Typically the younger less experienced public defenders are assigned to misdemeanor courts, and the more experienced go on to handle felony cases.
When you go with a public defender, you aren’t able to select your own attorney, because your lawyer will be assigned by the Office of the Public Defender. You get the next public defender on the calendar. However, in some felony cases, a specially assigned public defender handles the matter after the arraignment. Or, in some cases, there may be a technical issue of a conflict which means the Public Defender’s Office cannot take a client.
In general, public defenders have to take all the qualified individuals who request their services. So, that is why they generally have very large caseloads, which means they may not be able to delegate the amount of time you feel you deserve. The fact of their having so many cases is the one area that causes the most complaints.
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