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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with a Public Defender

If you’re not sure about what public defenders are, they’re attorneys appointed by the state or federal government to provide legal representation to individuals who have been criminally charged, or require assistance in certain civil matters, but cannot afford to hire private attorneys for some reason.

The Sixth Amendment in the Bill of Rights requires the government to provide free of charge legal counsel to those who have a proven disability and cannot afford private legal representation. While there’s social stigma surrounding the use of public defenders, studies have revealed that their success rate in criminal courts is comparable to that of private attorneys.

Over the course of this blog post, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of working with a public defender.

Advantages

They Provide Free of Charge Services to Those Who’re Needy or Poor

Financial destitution shouldn’t exclude a person from receiving professional legal aid when they’ve been criminally charged. Public defenders provide professional legal representation to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to appoint a private attorney.

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They have Large Amounts of Work Experience

Public defenders typically have huge caseloads and are often managing over a dozen active cases at any given time. On average, they spend a significant portion of their working hours in court representing their clients. A public defender may handle as many cases in 5 months as a private attorney does in 5 years. Consequently, they generally have a significant amount of experience and knowledge in terms of working with judges and how to work cases.

Disadvantages

Public Defenders are Often Pressed for Time

Since they manage such extraordinarily heavy caseloads, public defenders generally don’t have much time resources to commit to a particular case. Consequently, the majority of the cases they handle—particularly misdemeanor ones—end in plea bargaining.

They Don’t Always Get the Funding They Need

While public defenders are a state-funded resource, they don’t always get the funding they need. For instance, ten of Louisiana’s judicial districts almost ran out of money to pay their public defenders in 2015. Considering such issues, it’s often impossible for public defenders to provide the proper legal services their clients require.

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