Interviewer: To best defend a charge, what is the difference between a public defender and a private attorney in a domestic violence case?
In Westchester, Public Defenders Represent Indigent People That Are Charged with Felonies; Private Attorneys Working with Courts Represent Indigent People Charged with Misdemeanors
Michael Kramer: The public defender service defends people who are indigent charged with felonies. There are private attorneys who work with the court and who represent indigent people charged with misdemeanors. They’re called 18B attorneys. They are assigned by the court.
You Can Choose Which Private Attorney You Want to Defend Your Case; in the Court System, an Attorney Is Appointed for You
Then the next category would be private attorneys. Now the advantage of a retained attorney is you can choose which one you hire. You can investigate the attorney’s background and the attorney’s experience. You can interview the attorney and decide whether he or she is the right attorney for you.
The same does not hold true certainly with the public defender’s office, where you’re assigned an attorney and could be one of many attorneys who handle various aspects of the case.
Once the court assigns you an attorney, that is your attorney and you don’t know the background, you don’t know whether it’s his first case or tenth case. You have no idea if he is just out of law school or how many years’ experience he has. It doesn’t matter; he’s your appointed attorney.
There’s a distinct advantage to being able to pick and choose your own attorney and work with a specialist in the particular legal area in which you have a problem.