Public defender's are very good at what they do. They are in the court everyday, know the prosecutors and judges, and have the resources available mitigate the damage. Otherwise, you will need thousands of dollars to retain a private attorney.
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PD's are fine. They love their job. A private attorney wants to do good a job for their business so they USUALLY are more zealous.
This is just my opinion and not a comprehensive answer. You assume the risk because this answer may not apply to your situation depending on the facts.
The attorneys who perform the role of public defender in Santa Clara County are excellent; I know many of them personally. I would be happy to have one defend me on the criminal charges BUT they are not immigration lawyers and your husband's charges, if proven, will have immigration consequences. You need to line up an immigration lawyer before the charges are proven to work with the PD for the best result.
Lawyer is always the better option because of the time they can spend. Unfortunately, the Public Defender is really busy and can't (not that they don't want to) spend as much time on your case as a private attorney could.
There are a number of fine attorneys on here that you should at minimum consult with.