Posted on 7/31/23

In the United States, every person charged with a crime has a constitutionally protected right to a defense attorney. Texas’s Fair Defense Act provides prompt and fair appointments of defense attorneys to defendants who cannot afford attorneys. Criminal defense attorneys across Texas assist indigent defendants by taking appointed cases at significantly reduced prices.

The Difference Between a Court-Appointed and Retained Attorney

There are crucial differences between court-appointed and retained attorneys. The first difference involves the ability to choose an attorney to represent you. When you retain an attorney and pay the attorney’s fees yourself, you can choose the attorney you believe will provide you with the best criminal defense attorney in your case. It is a personal decision. 

If you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney, you will not have the right to choose your court-appointed attorney. Instead, your attorney will be selected randomly from a rotating list of attorneys. Many people do not want to leave their future and freedom to court-appointed attorneys’ hands. This is particularly true for defendants accused of DWIs, sexual assault, federal offenses, white collar crime, and other serious charges. Not being able to choose an attorney can also be disadvantageous for those whose cases will be going to trial. 

Price is the second major difference between a retained attorney and a court-appointed attorney. Court-appointed attorneys are not always completely free, especially when the defendant bonds out of jail. The court may order the defendant to pay back the court-appointed attorneys’ fees as part of their bond condition and as a condition of probation. However, these fees are much less than the cost of retaining an attorney. 

On the other hand, retained attorneys vary significantly in price. Attorneys who require low down payments generally pursue providing a high volume of clients with legal services. They are often overbooked and unable to offer clients the same amount of time and focus on their individual cases. Attorneys who charge clients a retainer fee up-front may provide more personalized attention to the client’s case. 

Will I Get What I Paid for When I Hire a Retained Attorney?

It is true in many cases but not in all cases. Generally, the more experienced and qualified an attorney, the higher the attorney’s hourly rate. However, not all attorneys who charge high hourly fees will provide you with the most effective legal defense. One thing is certain, however. You will have no say over which free public defender will be assigned to you. Conversely, when you hire an attorney, you will be able to ask them questions and learn more about the attorney’s track record when representing clients charged with similar crimes. 

Contact a Dallas/Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney

The attorneys at Abel Law Firm offer clients accused of crimes in Dallas/Fort Worth excellent legal representation. We have a track record of aggressively defending clients against DWI, assault, drug crimes, and other criminal charges. Do not hesitate to contact Abel Law Firm to learn more about how we can fight for you.

Flower Mound Office

Phone: 972.584.7837

Denton Office