Should I Hire My Own Rochester Defense Attorney or Go with a Public Defender?

If you are facing criminal charges in Monroe County, you need an experienced Rochester defense attorney. Self-representation is sometimes an option in these cases. But in most cases, self-representation in criminal court is a very bad idea. Just like they should not perform surgery on themselves, laypeople simply lack the education and experience to deal with complex criminal cases.

To avoid such outcomes, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in criminal cases. In most cases, Monroe County defendants can hire their own Rochester defense attorney or entrust their defense to a public defender. In a few cases, especially if the defendant is out on bond, the public defender option may be unavailable.

Most people cannot go wrong with either choice. But, there are some important pros and cons to consider.

Monroe County Public Defenders

Low cost is probably the biggest advantage of a public defender. This representation is usually not free, however. Typically, if the defendant receives probation, the judge will add legal fees to the court costs. However, the county heavily subsidizes this fee. It’s usually a flat fee as opposed to an hourly fee. Flat fees will save clients money.

Most Monroe County public defenders are dedicated to criminal law. Since public defenders practice criminal law full time, they have experience. They know all the procedural rules, even the ones that are unwritten. Dedicated criminal lawyers typically go to seminars and presentations to keep their skills sharp.

There are also some significant drawbacks to a public defender. First and foremost, clients have no choice in this area. The public defender’s office assigns an available attorney, and that’s that. This lawyer could be a highly experienced litigator. This Rochester defense lawyer could also be a young attorney who is fresh out of school. Legally, the public defender is presumed to be competent. Since the client doesn’t have a choice in the matter, they will have to deal with whatever defender is given to them.

Sometimes public defenders are inaccessible. Many defendants only see or talk to their public defender attorneys on their court dates. If you have a question, want to know the status of your case, or are unsure about the procedure, you may have nowhere to turn.

Private Rochester Defense Lawyers

Hiring your own unsubsidized lawyer is more expensive than using a public defender. However, the cost difference may not be as big as you think. As outlined below if you think one lawyer charges too much, keep looking. You have plenty of options.

Full-time Rochester defense lawyers are somewhat rare. Many private attorneys practice other areas of law, such as family law or personal injury, in addition to criminal defense. Diversity is not necessarily a bad thing. During your initial consultation, ask the attorney how much of her practice is dedicated to criminal law. If the answer is less than 50 percent, you may need to keep looking.

You have plenty of choices. If you Google “Rochester defense lawyer,” you will probably see thousands of results. During your search, look for an attorney who has lots of trial experience (not just basic criminal law experience), charges a reasonable rate, and is close to your home or office.

Finally, private attorneys are usually much more accessible than public defenders. That’s a good thing because an attorney should be more than a courtroom advocate. Your lawyer should also give you solid legal advice and keep you informed as to your case’s progress.

Reach Out to an Aggressive Lawyer

Most people get in trouble with the law, at least in part, because of a bad choice. When it comes to legal representation, choose an experienced Rochester defense attorney. At the Law Office of Frank Ciardi, we offer free consultations. We also offer home and jail visits.


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