Comparing Public Defenders and Private Attorneys

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Comparing Public Defenders and Private Attorneys

comparing public defenders private attorneys

If you or someone close to you has a need for criminal defense attorney services, you generally have two options available: A public defender or a private criminal defense lawyer. Knowing the basic differences between these two is important, including a few areas you may not have considered in the past.

At Beehive Bail Bonds, we’re here to not only provide 24/7 bail bond services to clients around Summit County, Wasatch County, Salt Lake County and nearby areas, but also to offer additional services like defense attorney recommendations in the area. Here are some of the key areas where public defenders and private criminal defense attorneys differ, plus the key factors to be considering when making this important choice.


Naturally, cost is one of the first considerations for any legal service. Public defenders are provided by government-funded programs and thus cost nothing for those who qualify; however, they are only available for those charged with a felony or serious misdemeanor offenses in some states.

Private defense attorneys, on the other hand, come with costs that can sometimes be significant. These costs can be paid up-front or in installments through a payment plan. In some cases, attorneys will offer discounted rates or sliding scales for those who cannot afford costly fees.

Experience and Track Record

Generally speaking, private criminal defense attorneys have more experience in the field than public defenders and will often be able to provide a better track record when it comes to successfully defending cases. This is due to the fact that private attorneys often specialize in certain areas of law and can be familiar with any nuances of your specific case.

On the other hand, although public defenders are not necessarily inexperienced, they often represent a large number of cases at once due to their government-funded positions. They may also lack the specific experience that private attorneys have when it comes to defending certain types of criminal cases.

Availability and Personal Attention

Due to the high number of clients public defenders are assigned, most clients may find that they don’t receive as much personal attention and availability as they do with a private attorney. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative, depending on your specific needs.

Private defense attorneys typically provide more attention and are available to discuss matters related to the case at any time. Additionally, because of their experience, you may find that they will be able to explain everything in greater detail so you have a better understanding of what is happening as the case progresses.

However, be aware that this varies pretty heavily between criminal defense attorneys. Some public defenders may have the resources to provide a great level of personal attention, while some private attorneys may be unavailable or otherwise unresponsive. Therefore, it’s important to ask questions and get references before making any choices.


While both public defenders and private attorneys have the same goal of securing a favorable outcome for their clients, their strategies for achieving this often differ. For instance, public defenders may rely on plea bargains or other more conventional methods while private defense attorneys may be able to use their experience to employ more creative legal strategies.

If you know a plea deal is most likely in the cards, then a public defender may be the best choice. If you would like to fight your case and need experienced legal counsel to do so, then looking into private criminal defense lawyers may be more appropriate.

How to Choose

Unfortunately, there’s a simple reality for some people who require criminal defense: They cannot afford a private attorney. In this case, it’s important to consider the qualifications of any public defender that you may be assigned.

If you can afford a private defense attorney, then research their experience and track record in the arena you need help with. Ask them questions about their strategies and inquire about references if possible as well. Furthermore, understand that cost is not always the most important factor when it comes to selecting an attorney.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to ensure that you get quality representation regardless of whether it is provided by a public defender or private defense lawyer. So take your time, do your research and make sure you select the right attorney for your specific case.

At Beehive Bail Bonds, we are committed to providing our clients with the resources they need to make decisions that are in their best interests – whether in bail bonds, defense attorneys or related areas. If you’re in Summit County, Wasatch County, Salt Lake County or nearby areas and need help finding a qualified criminal defense attorney for yourself or someone close to you, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to provide assistance.