Private Counsel vs. Public Defender | Many individuals who find themselves charged with a DWI have to make a decision on whether they will hire private counsel or request a public defender. The attorney who represents an individual is one of the most important decisions in a case.
So what are the differences?
When charged with DWI along with other criminal charges, the State has also implemented a civil lawsuit call an implied consent. Since this is not a criminal action, a public defender does not represent an individual for this case but private counsel would. For many the implied consent has more of an affect on everyday life then the criminal case ever would.
Another distinction between a public defender and a private attorney is the number of open cases a public defender has at any given time. In a recent article by Minnesota Public Radio, Jessica Mador followed a public defender for a day. What she found out is that on average a client gets to spend about 12 minutes with their public defender because of their caseload. Due to the current budget shortage this is not the exception to the rule but rather the reality of the situation. While public defenders are many times exceptional legal minds, due to the time crunch they cannot give the personal attention to a client as one would expect.
Hard work and extra time on a file can translate into a better outcome for a client. In a New York Times article in 2007, Emory University found that a criminal defendant charged with a serious crime who is represented by a public defender is typically sentenced to a term of incarceration that is three years longer than a defendant with a private attorney. When all criminal offenses are considered, a private criminal defense attorney will typically obtain a criminal sentence that is five years shorter than a public defender.
While public defenders are exceptional attorneys, due to today’s budget cuts they cannot always provide the time and attention a client needs. Private counsel can litigate the criminal and the implied consent portion of a case and spend the time necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for a client.