You have heard of public defenders, and you have heard of criminal defense attorney services. You may be inclined to think that they are the same, but they are not. If you are currently being held in jail on a DUI or other criminal charge, you should know the differences between public defenders and criminal defense lawyers so that you can best choose which you want to represent you and defend you in court.
The Public Defender
There are two kinds of public defenders. The first is a general attorney with some education and training in criminal defense that is hired by the county to work as a free lawyer for those who request a lawyer but cannot pay for one. The second type of public defender is a "volunteer" lawyer. In this instance, the county courts do not hire and keep on payroll any lawyers as public defenders. Instead, every lawyer working within the county is expected to volunteer some of his or her time in the service of the public as a defender for the indigent. Either way, you get a lawyer who will defend you for free, as is your legal right.
The Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer is someone who has specialized in criminal law. They may have multiple additional credentials that allow them to practice sub-practices of criminal law, such as assault and battery, domestic violence, DUI cases, etc. This type of lawyer does not come free, and if you choose to hire this kind of lawyer, you should hire someone with adequate training and knowledge of the law pertaining to your specific criminal charges. Since you are in jail, you may need a relative to track down a criminal defense lawyer to defend you. A meeting can be arranged in jail, but you will have to wait for an opening in the chosen lawyer's schedule.
Either Way, You Have Legal Counsel
Even though there are clear differences between these lawyers, you will have legal counsel. A Miranda right guarantees you to that right of representation, so you can either choose someone and pay for their services, or be assigned someone randomly for free. It all depends on the type of defense you are hoping to get, the outcome you want, and whether or not you have the ability to secure, retain, and pay for legal services. Be sure to choose the best option for your specific situation.