PD(Court Appointed) v. Private Lawyer-VA/MD Fairfax

Court Appointed Lawyer/Public Defender vs. Private Attorney In Virginia/Maryland

Downside of using a Public Defender/Court Appointed Attorney In Virginia

A public defender is a government employee who is generally paid much lower than those in the private sector.

A public defender generally has overwhelming caseloads.  They handle as many as 100 to 200 cases at a time.  As result of this caseload, public defenders are seriously overworked and underpaid compared to private attorneys.

Most public defenders are rarely able to provide a significant amount of client face time.  Public Defenders often meet with clients and review their cases just minutes before the client is due to enter a plea. Generally this is not enough time to get a very good sense of who their client is, thus, potentially preventing the lawyer from obtaining information that may be very important in formulating a defense.  This could also lead to the public defender missing small but crucial details about a case that a more thorough investigation would reveal

You do not get to choose your attorney

You have to accept the defender (Court appointed lawyer) assigned to you, unless you have a very good reason not to. If you simply do not like your assigned attorney, or don’t feel they have your best interest at heart, tough luck.

Public Defender (Court Appointed Attorney) vs. Private Attorney–Virginia/Maryland

Public Defender (Court appointed lawyer) vs. Private Counsel–Virginia/Maryland

Upside of using a Pvt. Atty. who you have chosen to hire

Pvt. Atty.s thrive based on their reputation and if they are not meeting their clients’ needs and expectations, this will come back to haunt them.

Less cases means more time spent on each individual case.  Most Pvt. Atty.s typically handle about 10 to 50 cases at a time.  Since this is a far more manageable caseload than a public defender’s typical caseload, this will usually allow your Atty. of choice to conduct a far more thorough analysis and do additional investigative work on your case.  This is key when it comes to finding holes in the prosecution’s case against you which can in turn be used to get the case dismissed entirely or at least have some of the charges dropped or reduced.

Most Pvt. Atty.s have more resources at their disposal.  Pvt. Atty.s usually have an existing network of private investigators, expert witnesses, pvt. chemical testing laboratories, associate lawyers and paralegals that they can draw upon to do further work on your case.

Less time in court – With a public defender, frequently, the only time you get to consult with them is in Ct., normally a few minutes before your appearance.

With a Pvt. Atty., you can consult with them at their office and over the phone

You can fire a Pvt. Atty.

If you are not happy with the way the Atty. is handling your case – maybe they never return your calls, or you have been passed off to a lower level associate when it was your understanding a partner would be handling your case – you can simply fire them and move on to the next Atty..

So what should do if you need an Atty. in Virginia or Maryland?  This is ultimately up to you.  Only you can decide what is in your best interests.  So think hard about whether you should go with a public defender/Ct. appointed lawyer or you should hire the Atty. of your choice.

Remember, your future is up to you.  Making the wrong choice is something you are going to have to live with for the rest of your life.

If you need help with this type of case in Fairfax, City of Fairfax, Prince William (Manassas), Fauquier (Warrenton), Loudoun (Leesburg), Caroline, Stafford, Spotsylvania (Fredericksburg), Chesterfield, Henrico, Arlington, Richmond, Alexandria, Warren (Front Royal), Clarke, Shenandoah, King George, call our law firm immediately for help and speak to a lawyer about your options. In Maryland, if you need help with this type of an issue in Montgomery County, Charles County (Waldorf), Rockville, Bethesda, Howard County, Ellicott City or Frederick, do not hesitate to call us for a consultation.


These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.

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