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What is the success rate of a public defender?

Public Defender

The Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office ensures the constitutional right that adequate and effective legal representation is provided for all persons accused of felonies or juvenile offenses who cannot afford to pay for an attorney.

The Public Defender’s Office operates under the direction of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council (GPDSC), an independent agency within the executive branch of the state government of Georgia. The mission of GPDSC and the Public Defender’s Office is to ensure — independently of political considerations or private interests — that each indigent defendant whose cause has been entrusted to a circuit public defender receives zealous, adequate, effective, timely, and ethical legal representation, consistent with the guarantees of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, the Constitution of the United States and the mandates of the Georgia Indigent Defense Act of 2003, to provide all such legal services in a cost efficient manner; and to conduct that representation in such a way that the criminal justice system operates effectively to achieve justice.

A Public Defender is an attorney provided by the Georgia Public Defender Council to represent individuals charged with certain criminal and juvenile offenses who meet the statutory income guidelines and cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Representation is provided at the trial level and on appeal, as authorized. Public Defenders are licensed attorneys who have the same qualifications as other criminal defense attorneys and specialize only in criminal or juvenile delinquency litigation.

The Office of Public Defender represents criminal cases in the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit brought before the following courts in Haralson and Polk counties: Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Supreme Court, Juvenile Court, Magistrate Court, Probate Court and
Superior Court.

In addition to criminal cases, the public defender’s office handles delinquency cases in juvenile court, probation revocation cases and files criminal appeals for those convicted of crimes.

To obtain the services of a public defender, a defendant must apply to and be determined as qualified for such services by a local public defender office. If you have been arrested on criminal charges in Haralson or Polk counties in the courts described above, you can apply for services at that county’s office location from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. he office serving Haralson County is located at 4485 Highway 120 in Buchanan. The telephone number is 770-646-6629.

Applicants will need to bring any paperwork regarding their court case (notice of court date, charging documents / citations, bond paper, etc.), as well as any documents they might have with regards to their income (check stub from employer, SSI documents, food stamp documents, etc.).

Once completed, the application will be evaluated based on the State of Georgia’s standards and guidelines for determining indigence. Upon qualification, an attorney will be assigned to the case in a prompt manner.

A representative from the local public defender office regularly visits the local jails in the judicial circuits for which it provides representation in order to find out if anyone is in need of public defender attorney services.

If you are arrested, the Georgia Public Defender Council warns that is is very important that you do not talk to anyone about your case without your assigned lawyer being present or without him/her giving your permission to do so.


David L Smith
Public Defender

4485 Highway 120
P.O. Box 909
Buchanan, GA 30113

Telephone: 770-646-6629
Fax: 770-646-6628

What is the success rate of a public defender?

We’re often asked if hiring a public defender is ‘worth it,’ or if ‘public defenders are any good.’ The common misconception is that public defenders aren’t worth the effort to try and obtain, or that they’ll not be as effective as a private attorney, but studies show that this is not the case. In fact, a recently study done by the American Bar Association found that public defenders are often just as effective as private counsel. This study went on to conclude that based on the results, it would “strongly suggest that public defender representation is associated with improved case outcomes.”

Before researching the pros and cons and of hiring a public defender, first find out whether or not your qualify for a public defender.

Advantages of a Public Defender

Public defenders work with the same judges and prosecutors everyday, and therefore get to know their personalities better than many private attorneys. Public defenders often know the quirks, peeves and tolerances of the prosecutors and judges, and are able to use this knowledge to better know how to proceed with a case. They also see the same police officers testifying, and know who’s likely going to be a good or bad witness for your case.

Public defenders also typically work in “niched” areas of law, such as DUI or domestic violence defense. Therefore, they tend to be up-to-date on new law and legal theories in their area of specialty. Since they’re taking on massive case loads, they also know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to defending cases in their specified areas of law.

A public defender will likely have a good grasp on what the plausible options for you will be, and be able to present an acceptable plea bargain deal to the prosecutor and judge. As a result, you may be done with the criminal process and on with the rest of your life sooner than if you were represented by a private attorney.

Disadvantages Of A Public Defender

Probably the most apparent disadvantage of hiring a public defender is that they often have a huge overload of cases, and thus cannot devote too much time to any particular one (including yours). As a result, you may have little or no access to your lawyer except during the actual court hearings.

Public defenders often lack office equipment and the levels of research access that private attorneys have available. Public defenders also can rarely afford to hire investigators to collect evidence to support your case.

On the other hand, many public defenders do not have the experience that many private practice attorneys do. Public defenders often “cut their teeth” on high-volume misdemeanor cases such as DWIs.

A public defender also won’t be able to assist you with related civil law or administrative hearings, which are handled separately (such as driver’s license revocation hearings in a DWI case). Thus, you’ll need to hire a separate lawyer to help you with any of these concerns.

If You Have Problems With Your Public Defender

Once you’ve been appointed a public defender, it’s often very difficult to have your attorney replaced with another public defender. In order for the judge to grant a new attorney to represent you in your case, you will most likely have to convince them that the public defender is violating your right to adequate representation. Some examples of situations that fall under this are if your lawyer is:

  • Losing documents, missing appointments, and/or missing filing deadlines
  • Not informing you about your hearing dates and/or case status
  • Trying to force you to enter a plea
  • Ignoring evidence

If you’re having doubts about advice your public defender gives you, make an appointment for a “second opinion” consultation with a private criminal defense attorney. Most lawyers are willing to consult for a small fee, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your public defender is on track. If this private defense attorney brings up any concerns, bring these issues up with the judge as soon as possible to try and initiate the transferral of your case.


Office of the Colorado State Public Defender

Office of the Colorado State Public Defender

The Office of the State Public Defender pursuant to the Colorado Chief Justice Directive 04-04 is appointed to represent Mr. Aldrich. Consistent with the policy and practice of this agency, the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, and American Bar Association Standards relating to criminal justice, no member of our agency will make any comment regarding the case. Respectfully, we will not respond to media inquiries about this case, our client, or any case specific topic consistent with our ethical, statutory, and constitutional obligations.

Important notice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19): To help protect your health and the health of our staff, some of our offices may at times close periodically or have limited hours. We are always available during normal business hours by phone and email. To contact one of our offices, please see the list of offices here. If you need to apply for the services of the Colorado State Public Defender, please see here. If you need additional information about the courthouse in your jurisdiction, please see the Judicial Branch website for additional information.

Office of the Colorado State Public Defender
Answering Gideon’s Call For Four Decades
The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.
–Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

The mission of the Office of the State Public Defender is to defend and protect the rights, liberties, and dignity of those accused of crimes who cannot afford to retain counsel. We do so by providing constitutionally and statutorily mandated representation that is effective, zealous, inspired and compassionate.

OSPD Enabling Legislation:
The general assembly hereby declares that the state public defender at all times shall serve his clients independently of any political considerations or private interests, provide legal services to indigent persons accused of crime that are commensurate with those available to nonindigents, and conduct the office in accordance with the Colorado rules of professional conduct and with the American Bar Association standards relating to the administration of criminal justice, the defense function. C.R.S. 21-1-101(1)

Colorado State Public Defender Douglas Wilson Announces Retirement effective August 1, 2018. The Public Defender Commission has appointed Megan Ring as the State Public Defender. Ms. Ring replaced the previous Public Defender Doug Wilson August 1, 2018.

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