Is there really a difference between hiring a private attorney to represent you as opposed to a public defender? For those defendants who are truly indigent, hiring a private attorney may not be an option, but there are many who may qualify for a public defender that can still afford to raise funds to hire a private attorney. So what's the difference? Perhaps the most important difference is the restrictions placed on the representation that public defenders can give to a client. A perfect example is representation in a DUI case.
When charged with a DUI, a defendant is alsotypically served with a statutory summary suspension for either having a blood alcohol content over the stautory limit of .08 or for refusing to submit to a breath or other testing. At that point, there are two separate and distinct proceedings: a criminal proceeding as evidenced by the DUI tickets; and a civil proceeding against a defendant's driver's license as evidenced by the officers sworn report and notice of stautory summary suspension.
In Illinois, as well as other states, defendants are only eligable to receive a public defender to represent them on criminal matters. Therefore, a public defender is prohibited from representing a defendant on their statutory summary suspension. For most first time offenders, the loss of their license can have a bigger impact on their daily lives then a sentence on a DUI. A private attorney can represent a defendant on both matters.