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Sawl Law Group Sawl Law Group
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Public Attorney vs. Private Attorney

Serving Families Throughout Fresno

While both public and private attorneys are a viable option, you need to know what you should be looking for before you make your decision. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Time

The majority of public defenders have been overloaded with cases. In fact, the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office is one of the busiest in California with their attorneys handling hundreds of cases at any one time! On your court date, your case could be one of many for that day. With so many cases on any given day, a public defender is not likely to be able to speak with you for more than a few minutes prior to calling your case. Many times they can only glance at your case before going in front of a judge.

Due to the heavy caseload, it is also very difficult to reach a public defender on their office day (if they have one). This complicates things in many cases.

A private attorney is much easier to reach. They have plenty of people that can get them a message if you need to talk or just pass along information. Many private attorneys may give a client their cell phone numbers or email addresses too. With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, reaching a private attorney is, often times, much easier. A private attorney will also have more time to actually talk and get to know you and your case.

2. Resources

Private attorneys know professionals that are helpful and necessary for a proper defense of your case. Private attorneys know private investigators for witness interviews, drug treatment evaluators for assessments and recommendations to drug treatment programs, and mental health professionals for psychological assessments. With their contacts, private attorneys can tailor any outside help to the specific needs of your case. This type of information can often result in a more successful resolution of your case.

While Public Defenders have access to investigators and other professionals, you may still be subject to using only those professionals that the Public Defender/County will pay for. A private attorney is better able to tailor the outside professional to the particular case/needs of the client. Also, because their case load is usually smaller than a public defenders, the client is more likely to get seen/assessed faster.

Private attorneys  can also intervene early on your behalf by providing the prosecutor with your side of the story in an effort to persuade them not to file formal charges. Private attorneys are often available to counsel you, even after the conclusion of your case.

For DUI cases, a private attorney should help you with your civil or administrative matters such as attending necessary DMV hearings regarding your suspended/revoked driver’s license or representing you in connection with a restraining order that is related to your criminal case.

3. Choice

When it comes to a public defender, you have no choice. One is appointed to you and if you do not like them, there is limited recourse for you to switch to another attorney within their office.

You, obviously, can choose which private attorney suits your needs (legal, emotional, etc.). It is vital that the defendant feel comfortable with their attorney. Being able to select a private attorney virtually assures a legal relationship that fosters good communication and better results.

4. Caring

There are many outstanding public defenders. However, due to their huge caseloads, you may feel that your public defender seems rushed or indifferent and doesn’t care about your case. This is not true, they simply do not have the time to sit down and listen to you like a private attorney can do.

Private attorneys have the time to get to know you. Being able to spend the time sharing with your attorney helps you feel that you are getting good, thorough representation. They can take their time with you so you can feel calm and collected when it’s time to go to court.

5. Experience

Basically, your chances of a public defender with experience is like gambling; you might win, and you might not. Keep in mind that once one has been appointed to you, you cannot easily switch to another public defender.

The Attorneys at Sawl Law Group have over 40 years of combined legal experience. We know what we are doing.

While there is a chance that you will get an amazing public defender, it is still a game of chance. With a private attorney, you can choose the right one for you. Still not sure what to do? Give us a call and hopefully, we can help you with your case today.