Public defenders are highly skilled and hard workers. Yet, they are also overworked, understaffed and underpaid. If you can afford a private attorney for your son, then I suggest you hire one. For no other reason than a private attorney will, in all liklihood, be able to dedicate more time and attention to the defense of your son.
Public defenders are very good attorneys. There are experienced and deal with many cases so that their experience level increases WEEKLY. Most private attorneys started as PD. If you are eligible for a PD then ask for one and don't feel bad about it, you won't have to pay the money to hire. If you wnat more of a 1x1 experience with your attorney OR if you aren't eligible for the appointment of an attorney due to assests or wages then hire one for sure. DONT REPRESENT YOURSELF. You won't know all of your options because the prosecutor isn't going to tell you about them all and the judge can't give you legal advice so GET AN ATTORNEY.
Public defenders are very experienced criminal defense attorneys. However, because of their high caseloads, they are unable to give each client a lot of personal attention. Not everyone qualifies for a PD. The defendant must be financially unable to afford private counsel.
Private defense attorneys obviously cost more than PDs. Their experience varies. They are better able to give more attention to each client and to delve deeper into investigations when necessary due to their less limited budget.
If you can afford to help your son, a private attorney might be better for him, given the circumstances you describe. This case very possibly could go to trial. There are many good criminal defense attorneys near you. If you are unable to receive referrals from friends or family, feel free to contact me and I can furnish some names.