As someone arrested by the police and accused of a criminal offense, you have the right to defend yourself. Not only does that mean you have the right to go to court and plead not guilty, but you also have the right to an attorney.
Those without a lot of income or major personal assets might even qualify for a state-funded public defender. Making use of a public defender could seem like a good solution at first. Unfortunately, however well-intentioned many public defenders may be, there are big issues that will affect the quality of representation that they can offer to their clients.
Most public defenders have impossible caseloads and little control over cases
Public defenders play a crucial role in the American justice system by helping ensure that anyone accused of a crime has counsel and support as they navigate the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, there is usually a higher demand for representation by public defenders than there are professionals able to provide support.
The average public defender has more cases than they can reasonably manage. Some of them only have a few minutes to review precedent and evidence per client before going into a meeting or sitting down at court. That high caseload alone might compromise the quality of legal advice that you receive, but there is also the issue about legal specialization to consider.
Public defenders generally have to take cases of all kinds. They may not have any background with the kind of charge someone finds themselves facing. Lack of knowledge about state law in this particular area and previous court rulings might mean that they don’t have the knowledge necessary to adequately assist someone facing charges.
Retaining your own lawyer may improve chances of success
Unlike a public defender, a defense attorney that you retain to represent you in a criminal case will only take on cases that they have the time and knowledge to properly manage.
You can count on your lawyer to adequately investigate your situation and the applicable laws and precedent. More importantly, you know that your success will be a priority to your attorney, as the outcome of the case has a stronger bearing on their career success than it might for a public defender.
Recognizing that you need the right help when facing criminal charges can help you better defend yourself.