Public Defender Vs. Private Lawyer: Which Is Better?

Anyone who is arrested for a crime will be understandably worried about the amount of money they will have to pay for their attorney. Some individuals are pleased when they hear that they are able to secure the services of a public defender on the government’s dime. These public defenders are secured by the United States Constitution and work hard for their clients. However, this admirable situation does not increase the chances that an individual will be able to secure a release or a competent defense. In order to obtain such a defense, individuals need to turn towards the services of private attorneys and hire a lawyer from a private firm.

Advantages of Hiring a Public Defender

A public defender is an individual appointed by the state who is tasked with representing those who are indigent from criminal charges. The most prominent advantages of hiring a public defender surround cost. Indigent individuals cannot afford their own lawyer. When a person states and shows that they cannot afford a lawyer, they have their case taken over by the public defender’s office. The public defender is a trained attorney who is legally obliged to work as hard as he or she can on behalf of an individual and their case. However, public defenders are often some of the lowest paid and most worked individuals in the legal profession. The greatest disadvantages of hiring a public defender is that public defenders have dozens of clients that they have to juggle at any one time. These men and women are overworked and their status sometimes influences the level of legal representation that they can provide.

Advantages of Hiring a Private Lawyer

One of the advantages of hiring a private lawyer is that they are often paid much better for less work than a defender hired by the state. One of the disadvantages of hiring a private lawyer is the cost. But a private criminal defense lawyer has a better relationship with their clients and can devote more of their time to these individuals. Many private lawyers are able to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles in order to find new evidence that may exonerate a defendant in their criminal cases. They also have a better chance at securing a favorable plea deal for criminal cases. This lack of flexibility is one of the clearest disadvantages of hiring a public defender. Prosecutors know that defenders working for the state are overworked and will often suggest that individuals take a plea deal that is generous on the prosecutor’s terms. A private lawyer can intimidate a prosecutor and make the prosecutor worried about hundreds or thousands of hours of extra work, emotions, and pieces of evidence. Private lawyers give an individual a much higher chance of being exonerated or receiving a lower sentence.

What to do

Anyone who is a criminal defendant has to go through the bail bonds process. They are arrested, booked, and send to a jail where they have to procure a considerable amount of money to pay for bail. An individual should pay this money as soon as possible so that they will have as much time as they may need to fight their criminal charges. Some individuals may need to make use of a bail bondsman who will put up their bail in exchange for collateral and a fee. Then, the criminal defendant needs to consult the services of a private lawyer. The individual may even need to go into debt in order to pay such a private lawyer. This expense is worth the better representation that an individual will receive from a private lawyer who is mostly devoted to their case. The lawyer will then meet with his or client to decide whether an individual should push for a plea bargain or go to trial.


Public defenders perform an admirable service and are not paid what they should be for what they do. Individuals who are truly indigent will have to make do with the services offered by the state. But any individual who is marginally indigent or may have to go into debt for a private criminal defense lawyer should hire a lawyer from private practice in every instance. The disadvantages of hiring a private lawyer are minimal. Individuals should not just become yet another statistic in the underfunded experiment of public defenders.