South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney V. Public Defender: Pros And Cons
Though the COVID pandemic certainly had a considerable impact on crime rates in Florida, statistics reveal that police were still hard at work during 2020. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), almost 507,500 people were arrested for criminal misconduct ranging from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. If you are facing charges, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is how to handle legal representation. You may have the option to work with a public defender, though you might also consider retaining a private criminal defense attorney.
One of the most important decisions you will make is determining who will guide you through the criminal process and obtain the best possible outcome. Therefore, you should review some pros and cons when weighing whether to go with a public defender or get legal help from a private Florida criminal defense lawyer.
If you qualify for a public defender, there will be no cost for legal services. Contrary to what you might hear through advertisements, fees in the area of private criminal defense are NOT contingency based: Messaging such as “No cost unless you win” mainly applies to personal injury cases. You will typically pay a criminal defense lawyer by the hour, along with costs. Generally, it should be your goal to retain the highest quality attorney you can afford, given that you could be facing fines, jail time, and other consequences for a conviction.
Public defenders may be assigned to dozens or even hundreds of cases at one time, so they are juggling many different clients facing a range of charges. They also spend most of their time in a courtroom, which could detract from other tasks. Private attorneys will only take on what their workload allows, so they can dedicate appropriate attention to each client.
Private defense lawyers often get help from administrative assistants and paralegals, whereas public defenders may not have access to these resources due to costs. A private attorney can also rely on investigators to gather evidence to support a defense, such as alibis and proof that could lead to a dismissal of the charges.
Knowledge and Experience
These are areas where public defenders and private defense attorneys are often evenly matched. Defending clients is a public defender’s only practice area, so you can expect that this person will have in-depth knowledge of the laws, procedural rules, and defenses. However, private lawyers who focus on criminal defense will also gain skills and experience when representing clients.
Discuss Strategies with a Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorney
You can see that the pros of retaining a private South Florida defense lawyer outweigh working with a public defender, but the next priority will be choosing the right fit. At Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A., our team members spent years working as public defenders, so we are ready to assist with your case and develop a solid defense strategy. Please call 561-626-8880 or go online today to set up a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL.