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Public Defender – If You Have A Choice

Public Defender – If You Have A Choice

Public Defender workloads – Possible solutions

      If you simply do not have the money to afford a private lawyer you can be happy knowing that South Florida has some of the best Public Defenders in the country. Where a Public Defender already represents or has represented someone in your case, such as a witness or a co-defendant, the Court may appoint a lawyer from the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel who will represent you free of charge.


       Maybe someone called a private lawyer for you or you did. Their fee was so high you feel as though you have no choice but to seek free counsel. Maybe you, or someone you know, refers you to a private attorney and you then “assume” the price they want to charge was somehow standard for our profession. As I have explained in more detail on my “FEES” page, there are no standards. There are many skilled criminal attorneys in our area. Making a few calls may change your mind and your decision as to counsel.


      “Free” is in big demand. You want free, I want free, we all want free. Appointed lawyers, as good as many of them are, must handle many more cases than any single private attorney. Personal attention can be in short supply. Case resolution is a fact of life for all of us. PDs and the free Conflict lawyers are forced to give it a higher priority.  Public Defenders are paid a salary. Conflict lawyers are often paid at a contractual rate that rewards swift resolution of cases. Is this bad? Not always, but it certainly can be.  


     Going through even the most minor criminal prosecution can be a very stressful and frustrating experience. A court appointed lawyer does not have the time to communicate with you as often as you may like or to meet with your loved ones to let them know what is happening to you. Appointed lawyers can’t help you with forfeiture matters, restraining orders, sealing and expunging records and some of the other collateral consequences of your case. My clients all have my cell phone number. I fund an account to receive calls from clients in custody any time they wish to call. I also communicate with them and their supporters by text and email.


      Many of your meetings with your appointed PD (or Conflict Counsel) will occur by video if you are in custody. If you are out on bond or other conditions of release, and have an appointment with a PD, you must navigate the downtown traffic, find and pay for parking, and possibly be kept waiting at the PD office. You will not be encouraged to bring loved ones and supporters to these meetings. My office is centrally located at the Rotortech building on Southern Boulevard at the Palm Beach Airport, has free and open parking by the door, and I do not overbook my appointments and those who care about you are always invited. 

      For my clients in custody, there is no criminal lawyer closer to the jail. It is very easy for me to visit as often as needed.


      The actual appointed lawyer who gets your case is decided by others. If you do not like the free lawyer or Conflict Counsel assigned to your case, or become unhappy with their efforts, you will find there is no easy way to switch to a different appointed attorney. With private counsel, although it is best to make the best choice you can at the beginning, you will almost always retain the right to hire someone different if you choose.

      From a pure financial standpoint, even if you do not have the funds available right away to hire me, I will allow payments over time in most cases.    

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