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Do I need a criminal defense lawyer or will i be ok with a public defender?

Appleton, WI |

I just moved into my boyfriends house. He was on probation and the house was searched due to a warrant aquired by his Probation officer. There was LSD, Adderall, Paraphanelia(2pipes) and another illegally obtained prescription found in the house. I had just moved in and changed my mailing address 3 days before the search was conducted. My boyfriend is now in jail and facing charges of posession of lsd, posession of illegal prescription and posession of paraphanelia. I was also arrested. My charges are the same as my boyfriends, and also obstruction because i lied and said he was not home when he was infact at home. I have no prior record except a seat belt ticket from 2 years ago. Do i need to hire a lawyer or will a public defender be sufficient in my case?

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Attorney answers 4


The first thing you need to do is stop discussing details of your case in a public forum as this could be used against you.

If you qualify for appointed counsel you might get a great one, then again you might not. You can always retain counsel if you don't feel comfortable with appointed counsel.


You need an attorney that is competent and can defend you properly. I suggest looking for an attorney that has experience handling drug cases. You cannot tell the quality of an attorney simply by looking at his or her employer. I have worked with some top notch public defender attorneys and I have also seem some public defenders who do the bare minimums their clients. If you have appointed counsel and you are not happy with the representation you can always hire a private attorney.

Finally, avoid posting any details about your case in a public forum like this. Save that conversation for your attorney where you can discuss your case in private.

Best of luck.


A public defender is, by definition, a criminal defense lawyer.

This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.


For starters, there are two types of lawyers generally classified as "public defenders," so you are aware:
1.) Lawyers who actually work for the Office of the State Public Defender (SPD)
2.) Lawyers -- myself included -- who take appointments from the SPD to help spread out their case load and deal with conflicts of interest within the office (such as when there are multiple co-defendants in a case)
So when you get a "public defender," you may be getting the exact same lawyer you'd have hired in the first place for a lot less than you would have had to pay him or her

There is a perception that the people who take public defender cases -- be they by appointment or because they're employed there -- are somehow different from the lawyer in a fancy suit who charges $200/hour for his time. The truth is, however, that there is no legal difference between the two, and the ethics that govern "regular lawyers", so to speak, aren't any different than the ethics that govern "public defenders." Frankly, there really isn't always an intelligence difference either; some of the most brilliant lawyers I've met regularly take SPD cases. All lawyers need to keep their clients updated on the progress in the case, need to zealously represent them, can't overbill or waste their time, etc. The reality is that you can't judge the quality of a lawyer by the amount it costs to hire him or her; while there are some who can charge high rates because they are really experts in whatever subfield of criminal defense that they practice in, there are others -- sadly, some of my colleagues from my graduating class -- who charge high hourly rates for incompetent work.

I always recommend people at least meet with the appointed attorney, see how you work with him or her, and get a feel for the personality connection. You can go hire a private lawyer at any time, but if you click with the appointed lawyer and you're on the same page as to how to handle your case then why would you spend a lot of money on a lawyer anyway?

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