As per the Miranda Rights, anyone who is arrested for any reason has the right to a criminal defense attorney, and if they can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them. Anyone who is facing criminal charges will want the best attorney possible to represent their case. But for many people, the thought of hiring a public attorney can be overwhelming. While many law firms don’t require payment until the case is won, it can still be a troubling situation — deciding to go with the best, or with a free public attorney.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of both a private attorney and a court-appointed attorney.

Criminal Defense Attorney BendCourt-Appointed Attorney


  • Free: As you can imagine, this is a significant benefit. Public defenders are often either a state or federal government employee and there is no cost to the defendant.
  • Fairly Experienced: Despite what one may think, court-appointed attorneys have a considerable amount of experience. With busy workloads and working several cases at a time, they gain a lot of experience in a wide range of areas quickly.
  • Relationships: Because public criminal defense attorneys have such busy schedules, they have the opportunity to establish and build relationships with judges, prosecutors, and other personnel that can be highly beneficial.


  • You Don’t Select Them: With a public attorney, you don’t have an opportunity to interview law firms to find out whether or not they are right for you and your case. You may be appointed an attorney who is not as experienced in the area of law you need them to be.
  • Busy Caseloads: While a busy schedule can provide these attorneys with experience, it limits the amount of time they have to meet with the accused to go over the details and to create a strong defense strategy.
  • Less Time: The limited amount of time they have makes it difficult for them to research, formulate a defense, and present their case effectively.

Criminal Defense Attorney BendPrivate Criminal Defense Attorney


  • Personal Time: More complicated or intricate cases require more time in order to put together a strong defense strategy. A private attorney will have more time to do this because they don’t have as many cases on their plate.
  • Resources: Private criminal defense attorneys often have teams of paralegals and support staff who assist the attorneys on their cases.
  • Money: Private law firms are more likely to have the funds and the time to put together a strong defense.
  • Relationships: The resources that a private law firm has often provides access to investigators, expert witnesses, laboratories, and other paid services that can help build their case.
  • Reputation: It may seem trivial, but private criminal defense attorneys have a reputation to keep, which can be a driving factor in them wanting to put significant effort into building a strong case in order to have a win for their firm. While this may not be a direct benefit to the accused, it can make a big difference in the long run.


  • Cost: The biggest disadvantage of a private defense attorney is the cost. The cost depends on the law firm, but it is often either a fixed rate or an hourly rate, which will vary depending on the attorney’s experience.

When you’re facing criminal charges, and there are potentially significant penalties on the line, it’s important that you have someone on your side who you can trust. Yes, the cost can be intimidating, but that shouldn’t be the only factor that goes into making your decision between choosing a court-appointed attorney or a private criminal defense attorney.

The attorneys at Donahue Law Firm have years of experience, have fought a wide range of cases, have an experienced legal team, and the time, passion, and dedication to put toward your case. Give us a call today for a free consultation and we’ll show you that we will be there for you throughout your case.