Public Defender vs. Private Lawyer: Understand the Difference

dui defense lawyer in west chester pennsylvaniaWith more than 46,000 persons arrested for drinking under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania during 2016, DUI is rapidly moving toward number one on the state crime list. Every person charged with DUI has a choice in their defense. They may attempt to defend themselves, hire a private criminal defense lawyer, or if they qualify they may opt to use a public defender.

Public defenders are assigned to defendants who cannot afford a lawyer. For someone with limited resources, this may seem like the best way to go. However, what many people don’t realize is that using a public defender for a DUI charge may not actually save them money or resources in the long-term. Public defenders have incredibly large workloads, with hundreds of cases, and they are simply unable to devote their time to individual clients in the same way that private defense attorneys can.

While public defenders provide the best representation they can under the circumstances, that defense does not compare to what may be available from a lawyer who is able to focus on your specific case. If you have been charged with DUI, making the choice to use a private defense lawyer is the wisest investment you can make in yourself and your future. Contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or online today to schedule your initial consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.

The Sixth Amendment

The United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963. The Court held that defendants facing possible prison time are entitled to court-appointed lawyers paid for by the government. Other rights under the Sixth Amendment include:

  • Speedy trial
  • Public trial
  • Impartial jury
  • Knowing who your accusers are

The courts rely on public defenders to deliver effective counsel, but there are necessary limitations created by the system. For example, defendants must accept the public defender assigned to their case, and judges rarely approve a request from a defendant to fire their public defender. This means defendants get the defender they get, not who they may want– a critical distinction between using a public defender versus a private lawyer. Private defense lawyers are free to agree to take a client’s case because they believe they can help, and not simply because they were ordered to do so.

Understaffed, Underfunded, and Overwhelmed

Public defenders throughout the United States average as many as 80 to 100 cases a week. Heavy caseloads leave almost no time for public defenders to give each case individual attention. Furthermore, limited funding means there may be no money for private investigators or experts. And “speedy trial,” is subject to docket demands, with far more pending cases than available court resources.

Private defense lawyers who are experienced with DUI can focus on each client. They have the discretion to choose cases and manage their own workloads to levels that ensure they have the time and resources to make the best defense possible for every individual.

Call the Skinner Law Firm Today

If you think you cannot afford a private lawyer, give your finances another look. The truth is you may not be able to afford to trust your case to an overworked public defender. A public defender may save money right now but at an even greater cost to you and your future. Invest in yourself by hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or online today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more.

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