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Should I Stay with my PD (Public Defender)?

Individuals often wonder whether or not their court-appointed public defender (PD) will be able to adequately represent them in their criminal case. Unfortunately, PD's have a gotten a bad name, mostly due to circumstances out of their control. There are pro's and con's to being represented by a PD.

The pro's are numerous. While it is no longer the case that a PD is completely free to indigent individuals, they are much cheaper than hiring private counsel. Of course, one has to complete law school and pass the Florida bar exam to become a PD so they have the same educational and admission requirements as every other attorney in Florida. One of the biggest advantages of having a PD is that they regularly practice in front of the same judge with the same prosecutors day in and day out, so they generally will have a good working relationship with these two very important groups. They will also know what the judges and prosecutors expect to help you in your case. Finally, for the most part, the attorneys at the PD's office are excellent attorneys that have a passion for making sure people get a just and fair defense.

The con's to having a PD represent you are not as numerous. The biggest complaint we hear about the PD's office is that they do not communicate with their clients. While this may give a client the appearance that his PD is ignoring him or being lazy, this is usually the furthest thing from the truth. The biggest problem with the PD's office is the individual attorneys have such large caseloads that it is not possible for them to keep in constant touch with all of their clients as often as the clients generally like. Likewise, the large caseloads may also effect the ability for the PD's to deeply investigate all the issues in a case.

Like all groups in life, there are some very good and not-so-good public defenders. On the otherside of the coin, there are some very good and not-so-good private attorneys. A general rule of thumb is that private attorneys will likely have more time to dedicate to your case and keep in contact with you more regularly. Whatever your situation, the best way to choose representation is to proceed with someone you are comfortable with and you feel is looking out for your best interests.

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