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Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend you defend yourself because you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t recommend fixing tour roof yourself or filling your own cavity; do-it-yourself is rarely the best idea, especially when it comes to criminal law, since the case can have a lasting impact on your career obviously public defender over representing yourself.
Between a public defender and a private attorney, that comparison gets a bit complicated, because there are really good public defenders who will do a really good job, and there are lousy private attorneys, as well. You don’t really know, so you have to do your research.
Generally speaking, the main difference between a public defender and a private attorney is that the private attorney’s business relies on making you happy, because an unhappy client won’t refer others or give them good reviews, and that directly impacts their business and their reputation.
On the other hand, public defenders often don’t know when their clients are unhappy and they often have so many cases, they may not even remember who you are later, and you are unlikely to remember who they are, either. Since word-of-mouth is very important to the legal profession, private counsel might be a better choice.
Another important difference is that you will always have direct access to a private attorney, while you may not have access to your public defender too often, so if you have questions or concerns, you may not get the answers and information you want or need until your next court date.
I once had a client who came to me after dealing with a public defender who had made him wait almost seven hours without even seeing them. He then tried to email the public defender the very next day just to find out what the plea was so that we could determine if it was a good idea for him to hire private counsel or stick with a public defender. We couldn’t get hold of the public defender, and received no response for more than a week.