Dateline: March, 2008, Issue 3

How do defendant conviction rates of private attorneys compare to public defenders and court-appointed attorneys?

Criminal defendants who take their cases to trial face high conviction rates, regardless of who defends them.

Harlow (2000) reviewed criminal cases in U.S. district courts and the 75 largest counties in the U.S.

Defendants received guilty verdicts in 90% of federal court cases and 75% of county court cases.

Conviction rates for defendants with private attorneys were nearly identical to conviction rates for defendants with public defenders or court-appointed attorneys.

Source Harlow, C. W. (2000). Defense counsel in criminal cases (NCJ 179023). Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.