Legal representation in court is a constitutional right for Americans. Public defenders are government workers that guarantee this right by offering free legal aid to citizens who can't afford to paid legal advice. Public defenders, sometimes called state defenders, provide pro bono legal advice and assistance. Tax dollars pay for the programs that employ public defenders.
There are more than 10,000 legal experts on the federal level, distributed in public/community defense organizations, who make sure that there is an appropriate criminal defense for every defendant regardless of their financial means. Usually, each state or county has a public defender's office that offers professional help to the citizens in the jurisdiction. Having free advice by a skilled lawyer is irreplaceable for indigent persons, whose concern is not just litigation costs, but also bail costs. A public defender can assist representing cases related to criminal offenses such as misdemeanors and felonies, as well as DWI and DUI charges.
The need for professional legal aid is large-scale, and at the same time, costly. Additionally, certain criminal defense cases may need to be taken forward by an independent lawyer due to conflicts of interest. This is why, apart from the public defenders appointed long-term, there are panel attorneys who either provide ad hoc legal aid in areas where there is no public defender's office, or help defendants at prosecutions and trials when there is an argument for conflicts of interest. The U.S. federal public defense is distributed across state and county public defender's offices. Community-based public defender organizations are typically non-government institutions that may receive public funds, but are supervised by a private board of directors.