If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you have an important initial decision to make—should you use the services of a public defender or retain a private DUI attorney? Understanding the differences between the two will help you determine the best route given your circumstances.

What Is a Public Defender?

You’ve likely heard the term public defender before, may not fully understand what it means to have a public defender represent you. Public defenders are attorneys appointed by a court to represent individuals who are charged with a crime but cannot afford a private attorney. Furthermore, you generally do not have the opportunity to choose your public defender.

What Is a Private Lawyer?

Private criminal defense attorneys work in the private sector and represent people who are charged with a crime and either do not qualify for a public defender or choose to hire a private attorney instead. Private attorneys are not court-appointed or on the government payroll. In many cases, a private attorney will represent you in both your criminal and DMV proceedings; public defenders generally only represent their clients in criminal court. If you are charged with a DUI, you have the right to retain your own private DUI attorney.

Public Defender Versus Private Lawyer

A DUI charge is stressful, and you will want top-notch legal representation throughout the entire proceeding. Let’s take a look at the differences between using a public defender and hiring a private lawyer.

Let’s Talk Money

If you qualify, it will not cost you any money out of pocket to use a public defender. If you choose to retain the services of a private DUI attorney, you will have to pay for those services. The cost of retaining a private attorney to assist with a DUI charge typically starts at $750 and goes up based on the complexity of your case and whether it goes to trial.

Choice in the Matter

If you decide to hire a private DUI attorney, you can choose your own attorney. You should schedule initial consultations with a few different lawyers and choose the one whom you feel will best represent you and will best deliver your desired outcome. If you decide to use a public defender, you cannot choose your attorney. Rather, the court will assign you one of the jurisdiction’s public defenders with no option to change.

Time Spent in Court

For those who lead busy lives—juggling work, school, kids, and the demands of everyday life—having to appear in court once, much less multiple times, can turn into a real burden. In some cases, those who choose a private attorney will not have to appear in court as often, especially for routine procedures.

One-on-One Time

Public defenders tend to have heavier caseloads than private attorneys. You may get more of your questions answered and concerns addressed by a private attorney, who will tend to have more availability to meet with you and respond to your inquiries.

Contact the Khonsari Law Group Regarding Your DUI Charge

At the Khonsari Law Group, we have significant experience representing clients charged with DUI, and we would be happy to help you deal with your charges. Let our knowledge and experience work for you. Call the Khonsari Law Group in St. Petersburg today at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation.