What is the difference between private attorney and public defender?
Well, the short answer is that a public defender is an attorney that the court gives you or appoints you and you don’t have to pay for it. A private attorney is an attorney that you make a contract with and actually give money to and hire them to be your attorney.
The longer answer is a little bit more complicated. A lot of people have an impression of public defenders that they’re not going to do a good job for you or they work for the state, so they’re not going to work in your best interest. I’m not here to bash public defenders.
Public defenders work for very very little money and they have huge caseloads. It’s a very thankless job and I say that because I started as a public defender. From 2001 to 2004, I worked at the public defender’s office here in Okaloosa County, and in those three years, I got a lot of experience. I did misdemeanor cases, felony cases, I even worked on some capital murder cases. So I got some very valuable experience, but I also learned that having that number of cases makes it very difficult to give each client the individual attention that each case deserves, and that’s why I decided to start Flaherty Defense Firm. I left the public defender’s office in 2004 because I wanted to be able to devote the amount of time necessary for each client to make sure that details aren’t missed and that nothing falls through the cracks.