Skip to main content

What's the difference between a Public Defender, and an Attorney?

Lakewood, CO |

I just got a DUI, and was appointed a Public Defender, however I'm really looking to get it off my record entirely, maybe getting it expunged later. Can public defenders do that? Or should i get a lawyer?
What's the difference between them both?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Public Defenders are attorneys. Your choice is between an attorney who is appointed to you by the state because of your lack of finances or a private attorney. Public defenders are often very good advocates who spend most of their time in the same courtroom with the same DA and judge and get a very good feel for how everything plays out. The disadvantage PDs have compared to private attorneys involves caseload. Most PDs have a much higher caseload than most private attorneys I know. I was a PD for five years and my caseload when I was handling DUIs about 10 times higher than my current caseload. I still worked very hard and was a good attorney. I won the majority of the trials I had then. But I'd be lying if I said I could spend anywhere near the amount of time then that I can now. Like many others who practice in the DUI arena, I also have far more time for advanced training to be able to fully litigate these cases that I was not able to do as a PD.

Bottom line, PDs are attorneys and often good ones, but they have a ton of cases and may not have been exposed to the particularized training many attorneys who focus on DUIs have.

Many of us on Avvo offer free consultations, so you could consider giving a few people a call and seeing if you find someone you like and can afford.

Regardless, it is a good move to have an attorney help you. Best of luck.

Please call for a free consultation at 720-644-6413. The information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship. Lubchenco, Kendrick, & Baldridge, L.L.P. 720-644-6413.


As the previous poster wrote - a public defender is an attorney. Thus, you are being represented by counsel. The public defender or private attorney can fight your case and provide you with a defense to the charges and present your case to a jury.

In Colorado, DUI convictions are not eligible for expungement.

Disclaimer: Any response is for informational purposes only and it does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship. For additional information or a free consultation contact the Law Offices of Laurie A. Schmidt at (303) 747-4686.


Public defenders do not assist in getting charges expunged in my state, you have to hire private counsel for that.

R. Jason de Groot, Esq.,


As the previous answers point out Public Defenders are attorneys but they are appointed by the state to represent you if you qualify financially. Since you qualified I assume your income level is on the lower side. That being said a private attorney will range from 2k-10k depending on reputation and experience for a DUI. It very well might make sense to sit down with the PD and tell them your goals for the case and see what they have to say (A PD who is doing DUI's is usually newer and less experienced). They can tell you what the merits of your cases is and if you feel they can adequately represent your interests you may want to save your money. If you don't like what the PD has to say or the prospect of this person representing your interests then you can seek out an experienced attorney who specializes in DUI's for a case review for a second opinion. If you do this make sure to get a copy of your discovery for the DUI attorney to review.

The Law Office of Benjamin Hartford - 303-522-7573 - Benjamin Hartford has 10 years experience in criminal law and specializes in DUI/Vehicular Assault/Homicide Cases. Attorney Hartford's decision to answer your questions does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. The Law Office of Benjamin Hartford offers Free Consultations and we encourage that you contact the firm to discuss your case in more detail.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer