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Attorney Advertising: Website content for informational and educational purposes only and should not be substituted for speaking with an attorney.  All cases are different, and past results do not guarantee future outcomes. All fees must be finalized in writing and may vary based on the circumstances of a case.

The Risks with Public Defenders


In New York City, over 80% of defendants use public defenders because they do not know how to find an affordable lawyer that they can trust. According to available information, a defendant may take a substantial risk when relying on a public defender or a series of public defenders, as often happens.

Recently, the New York public defender system has been sued because of widespread complaints from defendants, who claimed that their lawyers did not help to prepare a defense and who pressured them to accept fast plea bargains, which resulted in unjust sentences. These defendants complained of lawyers cutting deals without ever asking if the defendant was even guilty.  Other defendants spent weeks not knowing who their lawyers were.  

The public defender system has a number of complex problems, but in a nutshell, the state budget cuts have caused the public defenders to handle way too many cases each year, and this overload motivates fast plea bargains without any prior investigation or research. Keep in mind, public defenders receive the same salary regardless of whether they win or lose cases. On top of this, the court randomly assigns a public defender, and the defendant cannot switch away from a bad lawyer except in rare situations.

Remember, the government pays for the district attorneys of each borough, the assistant district attorneys (prosecutors), the police, and the public defenders. However, the prosecutors’ offices receive substantially more resources, prestige, higher salaries, opportunities for promotion, and political opportunities, including judgeships.

On the other hand, the New York City public defender system is fractured between subgroups. The Legal Aid Society handles the majority of the cases, but unlike the democratically elected District Attorney, the public defenders offices mainly run themselves through a self-sustaining bureaucracy. The lesser prestige, salaries, and opportunities cause high turnover, and so the organization cycles through a large number of new lawyers.

In this overloaded public defender system, the court may assign defendants to overflow organizations throughout the city. Sometimes, the city will assign cases to private lawyers for reduced pay, which can make these cases a lesser priority for these lawyers. Unlike the district attorneys offices, which have a budget for investigation and expert witnesses as well as the entire law enforcement system at its disposal, the public defenders have only small investigation budgets and must petition the court for any additional money, which may be denied for a number of reasons.

A defendant might receive adequate representation with a randomly assigned government lawyer, as many talented public defenders work in the five boroughs. Unfortunately, the huge caseloads and the budget problems undermine the public defender’s ability to provide the most effective defense.

The public defenders offices run like any other government bureaucracy. Imagine a DMV with long lines of waiting people and rows of cubicles with lawyers trapped behind mountains of paperwork.

The best criminal lawyers spend most of their time working in the courts, counseling clients, checking evidence, investigating witnesses, and researching the law.   At the Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua, a client will always receive the full attention and resources of a personal lawyer.

A defendant cannot afford to gamble with his freedom. In our uneven system, where both the legal and the financial scales tip in favor of the prosecution, the Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua always provides a personal lawyer and a first rate defense that the client will trust. Contact the Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua at (917) 656 - 7076 or bevelacqualaw@gmail.com and speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately.