Here’s What Public Defenders Are up Against
If you have been arrested, you have a right to legal counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state must provide a public defender for you. Public defenders are typically experienced and competent, but the deck is stacked against them. Here’s why:
- Lack of resources — A public defender often does not have access to the resources that a private criminal defense firm has, such as experienced investigators, researchers and expert witnesses. Last year, for example, Ohio public defenders spent an average of only $470 per case.
- Overwhelming caseload — A public defender may be handling scores — if not hundreds — of cases at any one time. This makes it almost impossible for public defenders to devote as much time as they’d like to each client. Ohio’s public defenders handled 115,810 cases last year.
If you have been arrested on serious charges and qualify for a public defender, you still may want to consider retaining a private attorney who can devote more time and resources to your case. Many defendants who don’t have the money themselves for private counsel are able to obtain the necessary funds from family and friends.
Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer can increase your chances of having your charges dismissed or reduced.