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The Benefits Of Retaining A Private Attorney As Opposed To Self-Representation Or Retaining A Public Defender

Interviewer: How would it compare, in contrast, between having a private attorney or someone representing themselves or someone getting a public defender, what are the differences between those 3?

Matthew Murillo: Somebody who is going to be representing themselves, obviously there is going to be an issue with their knowledge of the law, and that how long it’s going to take to research something. Whereas if I may have come across an issue in someone’s case 100 times, I am pretty much going to know that area of the law, extremely well. Where an individual who is being arrested for the first time, may spend hours upon hours upon hours researching that topic, so that’s going to be the main difference with somebody representing themselves, just the lack of knowledge, the lack of familiarity with the process, procedures, things like that which ultimately might end up hurting them.

A Person Representing Themselves in a Criminal Case May make Incriminating Statements In Front of the District Attorney

The District Attorney is trying to prosecute someone, so if somebody is representing themselves, and they discuss details, make any admissions to the DA, that can be used against them.  It’s the common issues people don’t think of. As far as getting a public defender versus hiring a private attorney, there are many options to consider in hiring a private attorney, so that’s why it is important, that, if you are going to hire one, you need to make sure it’s the right attorney. Generally speaking, one of the primary benefits of hiring a private attorney over having a public defender is case load. Public defenders that I know of, routinely have anywhere from 15 to 20 cases per day in court. And as a result of that, they are rarely available to speak outside of the courtroom. Usually they only have a few minutes to speak with a defendant before the hearing, on the date of the hearing.

Public Defenders Have a Very Heavy Caseload and Cannot Provide Specialized Attention to All Of Their Clients

A lot of the complaints that I hear are tend to repeat themselves.  I hear things like, “my public defender didn’t return my phone calls” or “my public defender isn’t fighting for me, they aren’t investigating my case,” or something like that. Private attorneys usually limit the number of cases they handle at any specific time. For example, my office limits case load to anywhere from 30 to 40 active cases, depending on a number of factors; like the type of case, where the matter is heard, which court room, where in the court process that case is, if it’s getting ready to go to trial, if it’s still early on in negotiations.  What that typically translates to is that, we are in court maybe 2 or 3 days a week. And when we are, we have 1 to 4 matters on calendar. So, as a private firm, we typically have a lot more time to focus on investigating the case, to research, and focus on the overall effectiveness of our advocacy.

Private Attorneys Are Able to Provide Specialized Attention to Each Client Individually

This freedom of time also allows us to speak with clients more about their case outside of the courtroom, without being in a rush, during those conversations. Most of the time, when we meet a client to discuss their case, it’s usually anywhere from an hour to 2 hour conversation because we do go over everything – every part of the case.  Anytime we get new evidence, we discuss that with our Clients. We discuss the pros and cons of different pieces of evidence.  Ultimately, if you’re going to hire a private attorney, you want to make sure they are giving you that attention you think your case deserves.

The Biggest Difference Between a Private Attorney and a Public Defender is the One-on One Attention Provided by Private Attorneys

You don’t want to be just another number.  For that reason, and to make things efficient on our end, we also provide our clients with a access to their digital file, which includes pretty much everything that we have on their case. We provide 24/7 access online, so if our Clients wake up at 2 am because they can’t sleep, they are just thinking about their case, wondering what’s happening. They can log on, check out some notes for that court appearance, and check out police reports. Any other evidence, any videos, any audio recordings, from the comfort of their home, they don’t have to wait until, 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock to call in and figure out what’s happening.Obviously we can’t disclose everything on there, for security reasons, but we try to pay attention to what our clients’ needs are.  I think that is the biggest difference between hiring a private attorney verses a public defender, that one on one attention.

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