How Many Cases Do Public Defenders Have At Once | Expert Guide


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You may think that you have a full-time job, but nothing can compare to a public defender’s load. A public defender might have as many as 200 cases on their schedule. Public defenders typically have to handle cases quickly because they can’t take on new cases when they already have too many open cases. This blog discusses many public defenders’ cases and what public defenders do to handle their load.

Who Are Public Defenders?

How Many Cases Do Public Defenders Have At Once

Public defenders are lawyers who represent indigent defendants in criminal cases. These attorneys may be government employees or private attorneys who have agreed to be reimbursed by the government. Either way, they do not charge the client for their services.

Public defenders are appointed based on a defendant’s income, not on the severity of the crime. Public defenders do typically assign to a case after being arrested. The attorney, who works for the state public defender’s office, will meet with the client, investigate the case, and advise the law client.

The attorney will also try to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to minimize jail time. If a plea bargain is impossible and a trial is necessary, the public defender will represent the client in court.

Importance of Public Defenders

If you’ve ever watched a court docket drama on TV, you might have noticed the person sitting after the accused. That person is there to provide the best defense possible, should the accused be unable to afford it. The job of a public defender is to make sure their client does not unfairly convict in a court of law.

This is a challenging job, as they only give a limited amount of time to research and prepare their case. At the same time, they deal with way more severe cases than they might be comfortable with. The accountability of a public defender is to make positive their consumer give a fair trial and that they’re no longer wrongly convicted. 

Why Are Public Defenders So Busy?

How Many Cases Do Public Defenders Have At Once

The public defenders are busy because the number of cases they handle is far more than lawyers do. An average lawyer can efficiently work on some 50 cases, but a public defender has to work on 500 or more issues.

These lawyers are usually overloaded with cases, not just because of increased crimes, but additionally due to a lower in the wide variety of public defenders. The workload of a public defender is very heavy.

How Does It Work?

Public defenders work for municipal or county governments and represent defendants who cannot pay for a private attorney. Many public defenders are not employees but instead contract out to provide legal representation by the courts in exchange for payment by the local municipality.

Which Type Of Cases Does Public Defenders Handle?

  • A public defender is a lawyer who represents a criminal defendant when the defendant cannot afford to hire his lawyer.
  • Public defenders represent criminal defendants in all kinds of criminal cases, from misdemeanors to capital murder cases, from traffic offenses to drug offenses, from shoplifting to white-collar crime, from drunk driving to drunk in public.
  • A public defender will represent you in your criminal case, without charge, if you can’t afford to hire a private criminal defense lawyer.

Do Public Defenders Do An Excellent Job Representing Someone?

How Many Cases Do Public Defenders Have At Once

A public defender is a lawyer who defends clients that cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. The notion of handing over the accountability of a person’s freedom to an authority worker may also appear wrong. However, the fact is that the public defender does a super job at his work, and you must appoint one in the case that you can’t come up with the money for a lawyer

Public defenders represent their clients and do their best to provide them with the best defense. They never take a guilty plea without fully explaining the consequences to their clients. Unlike defense attorneys paid by the hour, public defenders are on salary and more motivated to do the best possible job and win the case.

Even though a public defender is not your first choice, they are very good at their job. They are the most inexpensive option for lawyers.

How Many Cases Would A Public Defender Have On Average?

A day in a public defender’s life is full of surprises and challenges. However, the most common type of criminal case you can be assigned to defend is one having to do with drug possession of a criminal misdemeanor (not a felony).

One public defender could have many people facing charges of drug possession per day. The more serious felony cases give a more experienced criminal defense attorney, who often waits until the person’s formal control before taking on the case.

How Many Cases Would A Public Defender In A Year?

How Many Cases Would A Public Defender In A Year

The average number of cases public defenders handle varies widely throughout the country. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that public defenders in large urban counties hold an average of 886 felony cases in a year. In comparison, the average public defender in smaller jurisdictions handles an average of 574 felony cases.

How Does This Affect The Public Defender’s Caseload?

Public defenders manipulate a large extent of instances at once. They have to make sure that they are handling all their cases effectively and have to make sure that they get a good outcome for all of their clients.

Although they are no longer dealing with the instances day to day, they nevertheless have a lot of work. They will have to have a lot of different strategies at their disposal to make sure that they can deal with all of the cases they have. It cannot be straightforward, and it is not an easy job to do.

What Are The Perks Of Being A Public Defender?

What Are The Perks Of Being A Public Defender

A public defender has the opportunity to see and deal with defendants from all walks of life. Public defenders work in various settings, from farming communities and small towns to large cities. They may fight cases in front of a judge, jury, and panel of magistrates.

Public defenders offer the same title, pay, benefits, and opportunities as other attorneys who defend criminal cases.

Disadvantages of Being a Public Defender

Despite its long hours, lack of free time, and stress, becoming a public defender is an honorable thing. You’ll be assisting human beings at their most vulnerable, and you will be preserving them out of jail. 

However, you may need to consider the following; you’ll never be able to take a vacation, you’ll be overworked and stressed out, and you’ll be required to be patient with your clients. While it’s a stressful job, it’s essential for our society! If you’re willing to become a public defender, here are some tips for being a great one.

What are the qualifications to become a public defender?

What are the qualifications to become a public defender

An excellent public defender should have in-depth knowledge of the law. He knows all the procedures that approach the defense and the necessity of following the protocol and a case management system. The public defender is a public officer who represents the poor in criminal cases.

Being a public defender is generally a noble cause, but it is not accessible by any means. You may be taking up cases that may involve yourself, like a case of murder or a robbery, and yet you have to defend the accused. It is what makes it difficult. You have to support the law and protect the accused, which alone is challenging. But if you are modern enough, you can develop into a pinnacle notch public defender.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Public Defenders Worse Than Private Defense Lawyers?

  • Yes. They are underpaid and overworked.
  • No. They represent the people, and I would instead represent them than oppressors.
  • I’m not sure if they’re worse, but they don’t get paid as much as they should.

Are Public Defenders Worse Than Private Attorneys?

  • 55% – No, they’re the same.
  • 43% – Private attorneys are better.

Is It Hard To Become A Public Defender?

  • Yes, public defenders are underpaid and overworked.
  • No, anyone can become a public defender.

Do Public Defenders Get Pay?

  • Some do, some don’t, and it all depends on their work and performance
  • No, they are volunteers

What Kind Of Cases Do You Think Public Defenders Handle?

  • Cases involving white-collar crime (think Enron)
  • The murder case to end all murder cases
  • Divorce cases


Since public defenders have the same amount of time in a day as anyone else and have to deal with the same daily stresses as everyone else, a public defender can’t have as many cases at once as you may think.

It is pretty rare for a public defender to have more than a handful of cases at a time because the American Bar Association has already set a maximum number of clients a public defender can have. The maximum number is between 150 and 200, depending on the state.


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