Are Public Defenders just as good as paid Attorneys?

Asked over 5 years ago - Findlay, OH

I qualified for a public defender, but I haven't heard "great" things about them. I know they have huge case loads and I was wondering if they work as hard on each case as other lawyers do.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Brian Douglas Smith

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . A public defender is just as good as a private attorney. Additionally, a private attorney may be appointed to represent you, there is a court appointment list that many private attorneys will place themselves on. Thus even if you are worried about a public defender you still may receive a private attorney to represent you as part of appointed counsel.

  2. David G. Weilbacher, Esq.

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Mr. Smith and Ms. O'Connor are both correct. There are good and bad attorneys, but their abilities have little to do with how they are being paid. I recently had a colleague relate a story to me. He was approached by a criminal defendant who had been appointed an attorney by the court. The defendant's concerns were similar to yours. So my colleague asked the defendant the name of the attorney who had been appointed to him. It just so happened that the attorney who was appointed is widely considered one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Cleveland. In fact, if I were ever in need of criminal representation, the attorney who happened to be appointed to the defendant's case is exactly the attorney I would hire. Follow Ms. O'Connor's suggestions, and you should be fine.

    This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. It is also to give you general information and a general understanding of the law. This website is not intended to give you specific legal advice. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. We attempt to provide quality information, but the law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance.

  3. Deirdre Lynn O'Connor

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . They are just as good and just as bad as a paid lawyer. People often make the assumption that they are getting a better attorney just because they paid for it. That is not always the case.

    I suggest you start out anticipating the best, but always monitor the progress. Same advice would apply if you hired a private lawyer or were appointed a private lawyer.

    Here's what you should expect from any criminal defense lawyer: The lawyer should keep you informed at all stages, answer your questions, consider your ideas, investigate your case, find evidence to support your defense, try to exclude unfavorable evidence, consult with experts (if needed), come to court prepared, negotiate the best possible disposition, and be fully prepared to try your case if needed or desired.

    If your lawyer does those things, then you have a good one. If your lawyer doesn't, then you need a new one. See link below; though keep in mind written with reference to California law. A similar process will be available in your state.

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