Private DUI attorney or public defender? The debate whether to use a private DUI attorney or public defender comes up regularly for people charged with criminal, DUI/DWI and traffic offense in Maryland.
What is the Office of the Public Defender?
The Office of the Public Defender was created on July 1, 1971, by the Maryland Legislature. With over approximately 570 attorneys, OPD is the largest legal services organization in Maryland. Representation is provided in District Courts, Juvenile Courts, Circuit Courts, judicial bail reviews and related collateral hearings, Children in Need of Assistance (CINA) and termination of parental rights (TPR) cases.
Public defenders have a lot of litigation and trial experience, know the judges very well, and are in court every day. However, they have large caseloads and cannot devote a lot of time to each individual case. Additionally, you cannot choose your public defender, your attorney is assigned to you.
You must apply for the services of the public defender
If you are too late, then the Office of the Public Defender will not represent you. You’ll have to ask the court for a postponement in order to give yourself enough time to apply. Some judges will not grant you a postponement if you waited too long to apply.
You must qualify for the services of public defender
If you don’t qualify, then you have to hire a private attorney in order to have professional legal representation.
Private defense attorneys can devote more time to prepare for each case. They can meet with clients, talk to witnesses, tell clients what to do in terms of mitigation, take your phone calls, and you can choose your own private defense lawyer.
These are things that public defenders do, too. However, a public defender usually has multiple clients on any given day and cannot provide you with the personal representation that a private attorney can.
Of course, private attorneys charge fees and won’t enter their appearance in a case until they are paid. The public defender’s representation is free.
Either way, it is important to have an attorney present to evaluate the prosecution’s case, determine any defenses you may have, protect your rights, and reduce any potential consequences.
There are many great public defenders and private defense attorneys. I’ve had the pleasure of work with and against both in private practice and as a former prosecutor in Baltimore City.
Private DUI Attorney or Public Defender? Schedule a free Maryland DWI consultation today!
The Law Office of Ross W. Albers is located in Carroll County, Maryland. Maryland DUI Attorney Ross W. Albers is a former Baltimore City DWI prosecutor that knows what you’re up against. The Law Office of Ross W. Albers is a member of the National College for DUI Defense. In 2016, Carroll County DUI Attorney Ross W. Albers was recognized by Maryland Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Criminal Defense: DUI.