Do you get what you pay for? Type of counsel and its effect on criminal court outcomes

Richard D. Hartley, Holly Ventura Miller, Cassia Spohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Although the Sixth Amendment of the constitution guarantees assistance of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, questions exist about the quality of this representation. Critics assert that 'you get what you pay for' and that public defenders are less effective than privately retained counsel regarding criminal justice outcomes. Some research, however, reveals that public defenders are as effective as privately retained counsel because of their working relationships with prosecutors and judges, the so-called courtroom workgroup. The current study tested the assertion that 'you get what you pay for' by examining the effect of type of counsel (public defenders versus private attorneys) on four different case processing outcomes for a large mid-western jurisdiction. Results generally show that type of counsel has no significant direct effect. Tests for interaction, however, suggest that for some defendants, type of counsel interacts with other key variables to influence certain outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1070
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Do you get what you pay for? Type of counsel and its effect on criminal court outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this