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The Difference Between a Public Defender and a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys

Legal Blog

If you – or a loved one – are facing criminal charges, you may find yourself asking some very important questions. Should you plead guilty or innocent? If a plea bargain gets offered, should you take it? Perhaps most important of all, which lawyer should you use? Today we seek to answer some of these questions, as well as tell you the difference between New Jersey criminal defense attorneys and a public defender.

The Differences

Let’s face it: everyone makes mistakes. One area that you do not want to make a mistake in, however, is choosing the right lawyer. With all of these options to choose from, how does one decide which lawyer is right for them? What qualifications should you look for?

For starters, a defendant will be presented with two options: a public defender or a private lawyer. To make the right choice, you will first need to understand the difference between the two.

A public defender share the same credentials as New Jersey criminal defense attorneys; both had to attend law school and pass the Bar exam. The main advantage of a public defender is their cost. For a defendant that cannot afford a regular lawyer, a public defender is free. They also tend to have a decent relationship with prosecutors, as they work with the same ones fairly often. This gives them the ability to – sometimes – leverage a plea agreement.

Having said all of that, public defenders are employed by the government. As such, they often make less than regular lawyers. As a free option, they tend to find themselves overwhelmed with more cases than a private criminal defense attorney might face. This, naturally, can lead to the public defender feeling overwhelmed and having too much on their plate. In this scenario, mistakes can – and often do – occur.

Why Choose a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

Depending on your situation, you may question whether or not you should choose one of the New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys over a public defender. While the appeal of free representation might be a draw, keep in mind that your freedom and lively hood are often at stake. Would you risk the loss of either to save money? That is a question you will have to consider.

For example, public defenders, because many defendants cannot afford representation, are often carrying full caseloads. Therefore, they cannot spend as much time preparing for your case as a private attorney can. You could run into a situation where the court-appointed representation has had limited time to prepare before entering the courtroom.

Another fact to consider is that public defenders may not have as much time to meet with you. Again, because they have so many clients, their time is constrained, and they have to prioritize their clients. A traditional criminal defense attorney does not have this issue; they control their client list, and their caseload, so they can meet with you more often.

Public defenders also commonly feel pressured to plead out their cases to relieve some of their burdens. This may not always be in the best interest of the defendant and may result in unnecessary fines or jail time.

Finally, perhaps the biggest reason to not choose a public defender is the simple fact that you have no choice in who represents you. Public defenders get appointed by the court, and you do not get presented with an option. Will you get along with the appointed representative? Are their goals the same as yours? Do they have the experience that you are seeking? At the end of the day, if you opt for a public defender, those questions will not matter. You don’t have a choice the court assigns an attorney to you – for better or worse.

Learn more about NJ public defenders.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys

If your freedom and livelihood are on the line, you need an NJ criminal defense attorney you can trust. A private NJ lawyer will have your best interest in mind and have the time to devote to your case. They are not under pressure to plea bargain your case to free up space in their roster.

What’s more, a private criminal defense lawyer will have the time, resources, and know-how to custom-tailor your defense to your individual situation. If you live in the New Jersey area and need representation, contact attorney Douglas Herring for a free consultation today!

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