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The Difference Between A Public Defense Attorney And A Private Defense Attorney – Q&A.

The Difference Between A Public Defense Attorney And A Private Defense Attorney – Q&A.

When it comes to finding a defense attorney to work on a DUI case or any other type of criminal case, one of the first major decisions an individual must contemplate is to hire a private defense attorney or to utilize a public defense attorney.  For some individuals the choice is clear, for others the decision may be more difficult.  Here are some commonly asked questions and answers concerning private and public defense attorneys that may aid in the decision to hire an attorney or not.

Q.  Does a public defense attorney cost money, and if so how much?

A.  A public defense attorney does not cost money if that individual qualifies as indigent under Washington State law.  According to RCW 10.101, a person who is indigent:

  • Receives public assistance (temporary assistance for needy families; aged, blind or disabled assistance benefits; medical care services under RCW 74.09.035; pregnant women assistance benefits, poverty-related veterans’ benefits, food stamps or food stamp benefits transferred electronically, refugee resettlement benefits, Medicaid, or supplemental security income); OR
  • Is involuntarily committed to a public mental health facility; OR
  • Receives an annual income, after taxes, of 125 percent or less of the current federally established poverty level (external); OR
  • Is unable to pay the anticipated cost of counsel for the matter before the court because the available funds are insufficient to pay any amount for the retention of counsel.

If an individual does not qualify as indigent but does not have enough money for a private attorney than that individual is considered “able to contribute” and the Department of Public Defense screener will have the individual sign a promissory note to offset the cost of the public defense attorney.

Q.  Does a private attorney cost money, and if so how much?

A.   Yes, a private defense attorney will charge a flat fee or an hourly fee for services rendered.  Fees vary between private attorneys and more experienced attorneys or large law firms often command higher fees.  Here at David O Defense, attorneys offer a free consultation to talk about the criminal allegation.  During the consultation the attorney will be able to determine the legal fee, which is based on the circumstances of the case and criminal history.  A unique feature of David O Defense is the ability to offer tailored payment plans, to fit the financial situations of our clients.

3.  Q.  Does an individual get to choose a public defense attorney of their choice for case representation?

A.  No, the Department of Public Defense will assign an attorney, an individual does not get to choose.

4.  Q.  Does an individual get to choose a private defense attorney of their choice for case representation?

A.  Yes, an individual chooses a private defense attorney that best fits their legal needs.  Here at David O Defense we prefer to meet individuals in person so they can get a better impression of our attorneys and office environment.  We also encourage individuals to meet with other attorneys so they can determine which private attorney will provide the best representation. When visiting other attorneys, David O Defense suggests individuals should observe; 1) attorney mannerisms, 2) how well the attorney articulates legal matters and answers questions, and 3) the organization of the attorney and their office. Additionally, we recommend reading attorney reviews by peers and past clients on reputable websites like,Yelp or

5.  Q.  Will a public defense attorney or a private defense attorney provide better case resolution and results?

A.  Generally a private defense attorney will work harder for better case resolutions and results.  Generally a private attorney has a smaller case load than a public defense attorney and therefore can dedicate more time and effort into an individuals case.  Also a private attorney has monetary and future referral incentives to work hard on an individual’s case, whereas a public defense attorney will receive a paycheck win or lose a case and they do not depend on referrals for future clients.  Here at David O Defense, our attorneys work very hard to achieve optimal case results for each and every client.

6.  Q.  Do public and private defense attorneys have the same legal education and qualifications for criminal defense work?

A.   Yes, both public and private defense attorneys have completed law school and passed the Washington State Bar exam to become a practicing criminal defense attorney in the State of Washington.  Years of experience, extra curriculum legal involvement, and a passion for criminal law will vary between attorneys.


Written by Criminal Defense Attorney, David O

Co-Written by SAO

Initiative 502- Legalization of Marijuana, what’s happening?

Initiative 502- Legalization of Marijuana, what’s happening?

A lot of people are wondering, just as I am, with the implementation of the legalized recreational marijuana system passed by Washington voters with Initiative 502 what’s going to happen?  As a DUI attorney/ criminal attorney I’m especially interested in having a pulse on what’s going on.  As of January 18, 2013, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is now seeking proposals for marijuana consulting services in: product and industry knowledge, product quality standards and testing, product usage and consumption validation and product regulation.  This is good news.  It’s great to see progress and the State requesting consultants to assist in Initiative 502 implementation.  Times have definitely changed here in Washington.  What remains to be seen is will the change be considered a positive one for all of us.

As a Seattle attorney who represents those accused of Driving Under the Influence DUI/drunk driving cases I’m interested in how the State will prosecute such cases as it relates to marijuana consumption.  The real issue in Marijuana DUI cases is whether or not the driver’s ability to drive was affected by consuming marijuana.  Factors to consider of signs of intoxication would include but not limited to, active components of THC in a driver’s system, time of last consumption in relation to time of driving, and the driving observed.  Just as with alcohol consumption, marijuana consumption and it’s effects on individuals vary considerably.  As a result, I think marijuana DUI cases are tough to defend but even tougher to prosecute.


Published by David O


Not a Crime Victim – Justin Beiber’s PR Stunt

Not a Crime Victim – Justin Beiber’s PR Stunt

Earlier this week, Justin Beiber sent tweets to his almost 29 million twitter followers that he was a victim of theft at his concert held in Tacoma, Washington.  A laptop computer and a camera were listed as stolen by Justin.  A police report was never filed and therefore no police investigation ever occured.  Fans and social media became suspicious of Justin and his actions concerning this criminal act.  Was this a PR stunt by Justin?  Yes!  As it turns out an unknown source under the twitter account @gexwy, tweeted on Thursday they had possession of J.B.’s items and released a personal home video, according to IBTimes.  Amongst many tweets that occurred between Justin and @gexwy, was the tweet by @gexwy that they would show more personal Beiber footage on Friday at noon.  Justin’s millions of followers flocked in anticipation, what could it be?  Not too suprisingly it was J.B.’s new music video “Beauty and the Beat.”

Along with the music video Justin provided a string of tweets giving motive for the childish hoax “since i was 14 i have had a lot of things said about me, from dying, to taking hormones, to dying again, to stuff about my family… to saying i had a baby with a woman i never even met. nude pics, drugs, my family, my character…but today…today i get to be in on it…”

No harm, no foul, no crime committed, just a few lies.


Written by S.O