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Should I hire a private defense attorney or just accept a public defense attorney?

Atlanta, GA |

- Under 21
- First criminal charges/arrest
- Charged with obstruction of justice for running away from an officer
- On college campus with group of other students at night
- Initially ran because I only knew that a stranger had pulled up
- Officer threatened to use taser; threat instilled fear and provoked continued running
- Not found to be under the influence of any substance
- Honors student concerned about future implications of charges

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Attorney answers 5


You need an experienced lawyer. It is not illegal to run away from the police if there was no cause to believe you were violating the law. Please contact me if you would like to discuss your case in more detail.


It really all depends on your financial situation and desires. There are numerous qualified and well trained public defenders, but if you do qualify for one depending on your income, the downside is you do not get to choose who represents you. One will be assigned to you. If you decide to retain or hire an attorney, the benefit is you can do your due diligence and pick one with which you are comfortable and trust. In a perfect world, you should consider hiring an attorney rather than one being appointed for you as you will have better access to your attorney and always be able to reach him or her.

Regarding your case, it sounds as if you have specific legal issues to contest which may result in your case being dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. It is not illegal to run away from a suspect vehicle if you feared for your safety. Because you are a first time offender with no criminal record, you may even qualify for a pre trial program with the assistance of an attorney. I would be happy to discuss your case in full during a free initial consultation if you would like. Contact my office at 770-399-6200 to schedule an appointment.


Public defenders are in court every week defending the accused. Private defenders do the same, but you are paying the bill can can demand / pay for, more of their time. If the court determines you are able to afford an attorney, then call a few and pick one you like. If you do not have the resources, ask the court for an attorney and explain what resources you have, or do not have.

Whichever path you pick, DO NOT go it alone.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


Quite rankly, you are a student, and may not qualify for a public defender. You would be lucky if you don't.

They will do a fine job with your case. But your case will affect the rest of your life. A private lawyer will be able to do what's necessary to protect the rest of your life. In my opinion, if you don't get a private lawyer, you might as well not get your degree, either. I know that sounds harsh, but I have been a PD and in private practice, and a prosecutor. I just don't believe that should risk your future to save a few bucks in this instance.

Feel free to call me or any of the other good lawyers here on Avvo. And good luck.

Thanks for considering my response on AVVO. The questioner and any reader do not have an attorney-client relationship formed by our communications on this website. Advice given by me on this website is general advice based on partial information. You should not rely on any advice given without first hiring a lawyer in the area where the case is pending, and providing that lawyer with full information.


It sounds like you have a lot going for you as you are an honors student and understand that this charge can create problems for you in the future.
Whether or not you qualify for a public defender is a big question. You may not in fact be elligable.
I know some great public defenders. But I doubt that an obstruction (for running) charge provokes much interest in an already over worked public defender.
If you are interested in maximizing your chances of a positive outcome, hire a lawyer.

Jason Bice
Attorney At Law

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