What Is The Real Difference Between a Private Attorney and a Public Defender?

What Is The Real Difference Between a Private Attorney and a Public Defender?

Choosing the right attorney to defend your case is a decision that should not be taken lightly. If facing criminal charges, your initial decision may be whether to hire a private attorney or go with a court-appointed public defender. In New Jersey criminal courts, a public defender is a lawyer appointed by the court to provide legal counsel for free or at a reduced rate. Representation is limited to individuals who are indigent, meaning that they are unable to retain a private lawyer because the income is below the state guideline.

Many people apply for public defenders, and as a result, they are often burdened with enormous caseloads. At any given court session, a public defender may have dozens of cases with similar charges to yours. Due to the high volume of cases, public defenders frequently don’t have the time they would prefer to devote to your case. Effectively, your case ends up being just another file in the pile. However, if you hire an experienced private attorney, your case will likely be their only file in that court. Thus, a private lawyer will give your case the attention it needs to obtain the best result. If you’re considering hiring a private NJ criminal attorney to defend your criminal matter call our office today for a free consultation.

Our strong team of lawyers litigate throughout New Jersey defending clients with criminal charges. With numerous offices in all 21 counties, the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall are conveniently located for personal and effective legal representation. In hiring the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall you get:

  • Hundreds of years combined experience defending criminal charges arising out of all 21 counties in New Jersey
  • A strong team of ten attorneys specialized in criminal law and committed to protecting the rights of the accused;
  • Lawyers certified by the state as criminal trial attorneys;
  • Former prosecutors now serving as attorneys. We have the prosecutor playbook and know their every move;
  • Offices conveniently located within a block from most county courts.  

Our lawyers are available 24/7 to answer questions. The Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall is well prepared to handle any questions in your case. Call anytime at (732) 450-8300 for a free consultation.


Public defenders are appointed, private attorneys are chosen. When you apply for a public defender you merely fill out a financial eligibility form. You do not get to specifically choose the lawyer who is appointed. Your stuck with the court-appointed attorney even if you personally dislike or doubt his legal skills. Going with a private attorney gives you more freedom to select a lawyer you like. You can consult and meet with hundreds of private attorneys until you are absolutely certain you have the best lawyer for your case. Moreover, you may for any reason dismiss your private attorney at any time and substitute a new lawyer to represent your case. Going with a private attorney therefore gives you the most freedom to navigate the course of your case.

It will likely be difficult to arrange a meeting and discuss your case with an overworked and underpaid public defender. You may get as little as a few minutes before a court appearance to meet with the public defender. Private attorneys have far fewer cases and thus more time to investigate the particulars of your case. Each case is different and any minute detail can change its course. Private attorneys have a great deal of resources available to help you. They can give you in-person meetings and communicate with you about every aspect of your defense. They have the resources to hire expert witnesses, access lab and testing facilities, and draft legal memorandum to bolster your defense. You cannot put a price-tag on experience and attention to your case.

As discussed above there are many differences between using a public defender or private attorney for your case. Making the right choice between attorneys could be the deciding factor in a not-guilty verdict. If you are facing any criminal charges, the smartest move is to hire your own private attorney. While the cost is greater, the benefits will undoubtedly outweigh going with the public defender. Hiring a lawyer is the best move to strengthen your case. Do not sacrifice your freedom to save a few bucks. If you are in need of representation, our criminal defense lawyers are available to answer your questions and handle your defense. Call the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall at (877) 450-8301 immediately for a free consultation. A lawyer from our office is accessible to address your concerns immediately.