Public Defender Vs. Private Attorney: What Is The Best Option For A Drug Case?

Interviewer: In a drug case, what would be the advantage of hiring a private attorney over a public defender?

John Reade: Public defenders usually get paid a salary regardless of the number of cases they have, and a public defender usually has a substantial number of cases. Since there are only so many hours in the day, a public defender usually only has the ability to devote so much time to each case that they have, unlike a private attorney. It is highly unlikely that a private attorney is going to have the number of cases that a public defender has, so a private attorney will usually have more time to devote to a client’s case.

Mercy of the Court

Interviewer: Do you ever get clients in drug cases that automatically feel that they’re guilty? They’re wrong, got caught, and there’s evidence against them. If that’s the case, should they throw themselves at the mercy of the court or should they fight?

John Reade: They should not just enter a plea because an attorney has to look to see if there are any potential motion to suppress issue(s). A motion to suppress means certain evidence can not be used against the person because their state and/or federal constitutional rights were violated. In addition, you lose a lot of leverage to negotiate a charge to a less serious charge, or a less serious penalty, after you enter a plea.

After a person enters a plea of guilty, there usually is not much you can do, versus if they have not, there is a lot more you can do. It is a mistake to just say, “Well, I’ll just enter a plea of guilty and the penalty and everything else will be the same.” That usually is not true, most of the time.

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