Public Defenders and Private Attorneys: Which Is the Best Option to Defend Your Criminal Case?

Interviewer: Why hire an attorney to defend your charges?  If someone qualifies for a public defender, what would be the advantage of hiring a public attorney?

Public Defenders Carry Heavy Caseloads

Jay Arnesen: Public defenders are pretty capable, for the most part.  They’ve got great training, lots of trial experience, lots of motion experience, and they know everybody in the court system.  However, for every one case I have, they probably have a hundred.

The complaints that I commonly hear from my clients are, “I can’t talk to my public defender.  I can’t get him on the phone.  He doesn’t respond to my calls.  He doesn’t respond to my e-mails.  The only time I’ve ever spoken to him is when my name has been called up in the court and we had to go up before the judge, and I didn’t know what was going on.”

A Private Attorney Has More Time and Resources to Devote to Each Client

If you’re charged with a crime and you’re facing prison or jail or thousands of dollars of fines, a loss of your driver’s license, that’s not the world you want to live in.  You want to get a private attorney that answers your calls and that will talk to you about your defense. You want an attorney that files motions on your behalf and one that discusses about every aspect of the defense so that you have a clear and concise understanding about how the case is proceeding.

This way, when push comes to shove and you’re given an offer by the state, you are not surprised by it.  You’re not forced to make a decision within two minutes.  That you are well informed and you make an informed decision and participate in your defense.

You get that with a private attorney, but you don’t get that with a public defender.

What Qualities Should You Seek When Retaining an Attorney and What Qualities Should You Look Out For?

Interviewer: What are some qualities I should be looking for when I’m considering retaining an attorney?  At the same time, what are some warning signs or some red flags?

You Can Research Reviews Written about the Attorney on the Internet

Jay Arnesen: I think the Internet is a powerful tool these days.  I think everybody can agree with that hands down.  With that said, people write things about their attorneys.  There are public forums, and attorneys can’t do anything about it.

What Credentials Does Your Attorney Have? Many Organizations Offer Designations within a Specialized Area of the Law

For me, I’m very proud of what I’ve done in my career, and I think I’ve done the things that somebody that’s in trouble is going to want to look for.  I’ve been very active in the state at local and county bar associations.  I’ve held officer position in those sectors for years.

If you look up me in the Internet, I’ve been named the super lawyer rising star for 2012, 2013, and 2014.  I was named top 40 under 40 criminal defense lawyers in 2014 by the American Society of Legal Advocates.  I was named one of the top young attorneys, rising stars, in New Jersey from 2012 and 2013.

I received the 10 best DUI, DWI, DUI attorneys in client satisfaction in 2014 by the American Institute of DUI, DWI Attorneys.  I was also, in 2014, selected for membership to the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40.

I think when you look up your attorney and you see if they’re active in their legal attorney and they have peer recognitions, if they have honest opinions and evaluations written about them by clients, you can make a good decision about the quality of the attorney that you’re going to get.

If you look on the Internet and you don’t see anything, they haven’t done anything to deserve your call.

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