Defence Counsel in Criminal Cases, DOJ BJS, 2000
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U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report November 2000, NCJ 179023 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases By Caroline Wolf Harlow, Ph.D. BJS Statistician Almost all persons charged with a felony in Federal and large State courts were represented by counsel, either hired or appointed. But over a third of persons charged with a misdemeanor in cases terminated in Federal court represented themselves (pro se) in court proceedings prior to conviction, as did almost a third of those in local jails. Indigent defense involves the use of publicly financed counsel to represent criminal defendants who are unable to afford private counsel. At the end of their case approximately 66% of felony Federal defendants and 82% of felony defendants in large State courts were represented by public defenders or assigned counsel. In both Federal and large State courts, conviction rates were the same for defendants represented by publicly financed and private attorneys. Approximately 9 in 10 Federal defendants and 3 in 4 State defendants in the 75 largest counties were found guilty, regardless of type of attorney. However, of those found guilty, higher percentages of defendants with publicly financed counsel were sentenced to incarceration. Of defendants found guilty in Federal district courts, 88% with publicly financed counsel and 77% with private counsel received jail or prison sentences; in large State courts 71% with public counsel and 54% with private attorneys were sentenced to incarceration. Highlights At felony case termination, court-appointed counsel represented 82% of State defendants in the 75 largest counties in 1996 and 66% of Federal defendants in 1998 Percent of defendants Felons Misdemeanants 75 largest counties Public defender Assigned counsel Private attorney Self (pro se)/other 68.3% 13.7 17.6 0.4 ----- U.S. district courts Federal Defender Organization 30.1% 25.5% Panel attorney 36.3 17.4 Private attorney 33.4 18.7 Self representation 0.3 38.4 Note: These data reflect use of defense counsel at termination of the case. --Not available. ù Over 80% of felony defendants charged with a violent crime in the country’s largest counties and 66% in U.S. district courts had publicly financed attorneys. ù About half of large county felony defendants with a public defender or assigned counsel and three-quarters with a private lawyer were released from jail pending trial. Defendants with publicly financed or private attorneys had the same conviction rates Case Public Private disposition counsel counsel 75 largest counties Guilty by plea 71.0% 72.8% Guilty by trial 4.4 4.3 Case dismissal 23.0 21.2 Acquittal 1.3 1.6 ù In State courts in the largest counties, 3 in 4 defendants with either courtappointed or private counsel were convicted; in Federal courts 9 in 10 felony defendants with public or private attorneys were found guilty. U.S. district courts Guilty by plea Guilty by trial Case dismissal Acquittal ù In Federal court 88% of felony defendants with publicly financed attorneys and 77% with private lawyers received a prison sentence. 87.1% 5.2 6.7 1.0 84.6% 6.4 7.4 1.6 Except for State drug offenders, Federal and State inmates received about the same sentence on average with appointed or private legal counsel State prison inmates Public Private counsel counsel Offenses Total 155 mo 179 mo Violent 223 231 Property 118 128 Drug 97 140 Public-order 80 98 Federal prison inmates Public Private counsel counsel 126 mo 126 mo 164 162 59 59 126 132 103 119 ù Three-fourths of State and Federal inmates with an appointed counsel and two-thirds with a hired counsel had pleaded guilty. This report uses information from Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data collections that, although gathered for wider purposes, present information about the type of counsel defendants and inmates used in their criminal case. Data are from & ù U.S. district court statistics for persons accused of Federal crimes (fiscal year 1998), ù pretrial records for felony defendants in the Nation’s 75 largest counties (1992-96), ù State court prosecutors’ information gathered nationwide (1990-94), ù the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (1998), and ù personal interviews with nationally representative samples of inmates in local jails (1996) and State and Federal prisons (1997). For more information on the data used in this report, see Data sources, page 11. In this report the type of counsel for Federal and State defendants was the type at case termination. Other counsel may have represented the defendant earlier. Data describing counsel at filing or initiation were not used because they were incomplete or unavailable. The terms “publicly financed attorneys,” “public attorney,” and “appointed attorney” used in this report include public defenders, panel attorneys, assigned counsel, contract attorneys, and any other governmentfunded attorney programs for those unable to provide their own attorney. Right to counsel is in the U.S. Constitution The sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a part of the Bill of Rights, provides that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall...have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Supreme Court expanded this clause by recognizing a constitutional right to counsel at public expense for those unable to pay a private attorney. In Gideon v. Wainwright (372 US 335 (1963)) the Supreme Court held that the sixth amendment requires indigent defendants in State court proceedings to have appointed counsel. Gideon involved a felony, but in another case, Argersinger v. Hamlin (407 US 25 (1972)), the Court ruled that an indigent defendant may not be imprisoned, even for a misdemeanor, unless afforded the right to counsel. Two types of programs provide indigent representation in Federal cases Pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act of 1964 (18 USC ö 3006 A), the Defender Services Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts oversees spending for Federal defendants through two types of programs: y Panel attorneys, appointed by the court from a list of private attorneys on a case-by-case basis. At the end of 1998 all 94 U.S. district courts used such panels, including 20 districts in which only panel attorneys were used. ù Federal defender organizations (FDO’s), take one of two forms: & Federal public defender organizations staffed with Federal Government employees and headed by a public defender appointed by the court of appeals or & Community defender organizations that are incorporated, nonprofit legal service organizations receiving grants from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. At the end of 1998, 63 Federal or community defender organizations served 74 of the 94 U.S. district courts.1 Workloads rose more than spending for the Defender Services Division The panel attorney and FDO programs can represent defendants at any time from arraignment through appeal and during supervised release. The Defender Services Division counts use of these publicly financed attorneys in terms of representations. Total representations by panel attorneys and FDO’s rose 26% from 80,200 in fiscal year 1994 to 101,200 in fiscal 1998 (table 1). The number of criminal representations grew substantially during the period (25%), with the FDO workload increasing 35% and the panel attorney workload 17%. The Defender Services Division estimates that courtappointed counsel represent 85% of 1 Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Judicial Business of the United States Courts, 1998. Table 1. Federal representations closed, by type of Criminal Justice Act attorney, 1994-98 Year All representations Total Criminal Other* 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 80,200 78,700 83,700 90,000 101,200 54,200 51,700 55,400 59,200 68,000 26,000 27,000 28,300 30,800 33,200 Federal Defender Organization representations Total Criminal Other* 42,100 43,700 47,900 52,200 57,600 26,300 26,700 29,100 31,900 35,500 15,800 17,000 18,800 20,300 22,100 Panel attorney representations Total Criminal Other* 38,100 35,000 35,800 37,800 43,600 27,900 25,000 26,300 27,400 32,500 10,200 10,000 9,500 10,500 11,100 Note: For a Federal Defender Organization a representation is counted *Includes appeals, probation/supervised release revocation hearings, usually when the case is closed or the client no longer needs or wants motions to correct or reduce sentence, habeas corpus other than Criminal Justice Act services; for a panel attorney a representation is capital petitions, court-directed prisoner representations, bail counted when the first payment claim is submitted. Representations presentment, witness representation, and other matters. may include defendants with a case pending at the end of the reporting period and those who retained private counsel after an initial representa- Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Judicial Business tion by public counsel. Numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred. of the United States Courts, 1994 through 1998, and unpublished data. 2 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases criminal defendants at some time during the conduct of their case (unpublished correspondence). Table 2. Type of counsel for defendants in cases terminated in U.S. district courts, fiscal year 1998 Type of counsel Criminal Justice Act obligations, 1994-98 (in 1998 dollars) Number of defendants 68,031 56,046 11,985 Note: Excludes 1,739 defendants for whom type of counsel was missing. *Includes both Federal Public Defenders and Community Defender Organizations. 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 $293,342,000 $296,794,000 $316,884,000 $338,028,000 $352,837,000 Note: An obligation is generally defined as a legal commitment for goods or services ordered or received by the government. Total Charged with & Misdemeanor From fiscal year 1994 through fiscal year 1998, spending grew 20% in constant 1998 dollars from $293 million to $353 million. Federal Defender Organization* Panel attorney Private attorney Self representation (pro se) Felony 29.3% 32.9 30.8 7.0 Table 3. Type of counsel for felony defendants in cases terminated in U.S. district court, by offense, fiscal year 1998 Type of counsel Violent Fraud All felony defendants in cases terminated in U.S. district court had an attorney in 1998 Federal Defender Organizations* Panel attorney Private attorney Self representation (pro se) 42.4% 38.0 19.3 0.3 26.9% 29.9 42.8 0.3 Defendants charged with a felony (33%) were also more likely than those charged with a misdemeanor (19%) to have private representation. About a third of misdemeanants represented themselves during judicial proceedings. White collar Federal defendants most likely to use private counsel Most likely to have a private attorney were defendants charged with a white collar offense, primarily fraud or a regulatory offense. Having private counsel were 43% of fraud defendants and 63% of those charged with a regulatory offense & violations of laws pertaining to agriculture, antitrust, food 25.5% 17.4 18.7 38.4 Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Criminal Master File, FY 1998. Source: Unpublished data, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Defender Services Division. Nearly all defendants facing a felony charge terminated in U.S. district court in 1998 and almost two-thirds with a misdemeanor charge had lawyers to represent them in court (table 2). Felony defendants were more likely than misdemeanants to have publicly financed counsel. Sixty-six percent of those facing a felony charge and 43% with a misdemeanor charge had used either a FDO or panel attorney. 30.1% 36.3 33.4 0.3 Number of defendants 3,426 10,795 Other property Drug 31.0% 34.3 34.2 0.5 2,487 21.7% 42.2 35.8 0.2 23,699 Other publicRegulatory order 16.9% 19.8 63.0 0.2 1,063 43.9% 32.4 23.4 0.3 14,476 Note: Excludes 1,739 defendants with missing data on type of counsel and 494 with missing data on offense. *Includes both Federal Public Defenders and Community Defender Organizations. Source: Administrative Office of the U.S Courts, Criminal Master File, FY 1998. and drug, transportation, civil rights, communications, customs, and postal delivery (table 3). By contrast, about 2 in 10 defendants charged with a violent crime used private attorneys. 9 in 10 Federal defendants found guilty regardless of type of attorney In 1998, 92% of defendants with public counsel and 91% with private counsel either pleaded guilty or were found guilty at trial. Disposition Type of counsel Public* Private Guilty By plea By trial 87.1% 5.2 84.6% 6.4 Acquittal Dismissal 1.0 6.7 1.6 7.4 37,188 18,709 Number of defendants *Includes Federal Defender Organizations (FDO’s) and panel attorneys. Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Criminal Master File, FY 1998. Incarceration more likely for Federal defendants with public counsel than for those with private attorneys Defendants found guilty after using a FDO or panel attorney were more likely to be sentenced to prison (about 88% of defendants found guilty) than those with private attorneys (77%). The difference in incarceration rates is explained in part by the likelihood of prison after conviction for different types of offenses. As has been shown, public counsel represented a higher percentage of violent, drug, and publicorder (excluding regulatory crimes) offenders, who were very likely to receive a sentence to serve time, and private counsel represented a higher Sentence Incarceration Probation only Fine only Type of counsel Public* Private 87.6% 12.1 0.3 Number of defendants 33,068 76.5% 22.4 1.1 16,622 *Includes Federal Defender Organization (FDO’s) and panel attorneys. Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Criminal Master File, FY 1998. Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases 3 Table 4. Length of prison sentence imposed on felony defendants convicted in U.S. district court, by type of counsel and offense, fiscal year 1998 Offense and type of counsel Number of Federal Sentence to prison defendants Mean Median Total Public Private 28,453 12,563 58 mo 62 33 mo 37 Violent offenses Public 2,266 Private 471 84 mo 74 60 mo 41 Fraud offenses Public Private 3,413 2,426 22 mo 23 15 mo 15 Other property offenses Public Private 862 380 38 mo 40 18 mo 24 Drug offenses Public 12,297 Private 6,753 75 mo 84 51 mo 60 Regulatory offenses Public 261 Private 244 33 mo 23 17 mo 15 Other public-order offenses Public 9,329 Private 2,283 46 mo 44 27 mo 24 Note: Excludes 304 inmates sentenced to life or death, 2,803 with suspended or sealed sentences, 383 with missing offense data, and 445 with data missing on counsel type. Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Criminal Master File, FY 1998. percentage of white collar defendants, who are not as likely to receive incarceration sentences.2 average sentence of 23 months, and those with a public attorney, 33 months. Federal defendants with private attorneys had longer average sentences than defendants with publicly financed attorneys Most criminal defendants are tried in State courts Defendants with private attorneys were sentenced to an average of 62 months in prison, and those with publicly financed attorneys, to 58 months (table 4). The primary differences in average sentence length were between offenses, not between the types of attorney. Other factors not shown may also have had a role. Among those sentenced to incarceration, drug offenders who used publicly financed counsel had shorter sentences on average than those who used private attorneys & an average of 75 months compared to 84 months. Among Federal violent and regulatory offenders, those with private attorneys received shorter sentences than those with public lawyers. Violent offenders who used private attorneys were given 74 months on average, and those with public counsel, 84 months. Similarly, those sentenced for a regulatory offense with a private lawyer had an 2 Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1998, BJS report, NCJ 180258, table 5.1. Table 5. Indigent defender systems for felony defendants in State general jurisdiction courts, 1990-94 Indigent defense system 1990 Percent of prosecutors’ 1992 1994 Public defender programs Only With assigned counsel With contract attorney With assigned counsel and contract attorney 56.6% 27.0 21.5 4.2 3.9 64.9% 27.8 23.4 7.8 5.8 67.8% 20.8 31.0 9.6 6.4 Assigned counsel programs Only With public defender With contract attorney With public defender and contract attorney 57.8% 30.7 21.5 1.7 3.9 55.4% 23.0 23.4 3.1 5.8 62.5% 19.3 31.0 5.7 6.4 Contract attorney programs Only With public defender With assigned counsel With public defender and assigned counsel 20.8% 11.0 4.2 1.7 3.9 25.0% 8.2 7.8 3.1 5.8 28.9% 7.1 9.6 5.7 6.4 Number of prosecutors' offices 2,272 2,352 2,336 Source: BJS, National Survey of State Court Prosecutors, 1990, 1992, and 1994. 4 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases The bulk of the task of providing counsel for the indigent has fallen to lawyers working in State courts. Approximately 95% of criminal defendants are charged in State courts, with the remainder tried in Federal courts. Two-thirds of State prosecutors reported that their courts used public defenders Three systems now serve as the primary means for providing defense services to indigent criminal defendants charged in State court. ù Under a public defender system, salaried staff attorneys render criminal indigent defense services through a public or private non-profit organization or as direct government employees. In 1994, 68% of State court prosecutors reported that a public defender program was used to defend indigents in cases they prosecuted (table 5). ù In an assigned counsel system, courts appoint attorneys from a list of private bar members who accept cases on a judge-by-judge, court-by-court, or case-by-case basis. About 63% of prosecutors in State criminal courts reported an assigned counsel program in their jurisdiction. ù In contract attorney systems, private attorneys, bar associations, law firms, groups of attorneys, and nonprofit corporations provide indigent services based on legal agreements with State, county, or other local governmental units. Approximately 29% of prosecutors indicated that in their jurisdiction contracts were awarded to attorney groups to provide indigents with legal representation. Although the Supreme Court in Gideon mandated that the States must provide counsel for indigents accused of serious crimes, the court did not Table 6. Type of counsel for felony defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, 1992, 1994, and 1996 Type of counsel Public defender Assigned counsel Hired attorney Self (pro se)/other Number of defendants Percent of felony defendants 1992 1994 1996 59.3% 60.4% 68.3% 21.4 18.6 13.7 17.6 20.1 17.6 1.7 0.9 0.4 33,092 32,909 37,410 Note: Missing data were 40.2%, 1992; 37.7%,1994; and 31.1%, 1996. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1992, 1994, 1996. specify how such services were to be provided. State court prosecutors increasingly report that their jurisdictions use more than one type of program to defend indigents. In 1990, 31% of prosecutors’ offices reported that their courts used a combination of public defenders, assigned counsel, and contract attorneys; in 1994 & the last time BJS asked prosecutors about their indigent defense systems & 53% of the courts relied on more than one program. In 1994 about 6% of prosecutors reported the court of their jurisdiction using all three systems: public defenders, assigned counsel, and contract attorneys. The most prevalent combination of two programs was public defenders and assigned counsel & indicated by almost a third of prosecutors’ offices. Table 8. Type of counsel for felony defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by prior conviction and criminal justice status, 1996 Type of counsel Public Private Prior conviction Any None Criminal justice status at arrest Any None 85.5% 77.3 86.3% 78.8 14.2% 22.0 13.5% 20.6 Note: Data were missing on type of counsel or prior convictions for 36.9% of cases, and on type of counsel or criminal justice status for 38.9% of cases. Pro se and other categories are included in the analysis but are not displayed. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996. Table 7. Type of counsel for felony defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by most serious charge, 1996 Type of counsel Public defender Assigned counsel Hired attorney Self (pro se)/other Number of defendants Most serious charge at arrest Violent Property Drug Public-order 67.9% 68.3% 69.5% 64.3% 14.9 12.8 14.8 8.7 16.8 18.3 15.4 26.7 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.3 9,003 12,006 13,338 3,063 Note: Data were missing on type of counsel for 31.1% of cases. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996. 8 in 10 felony defendants in large State courts used publicly financed attorneys Pretrial release less common for State defendants with public attorneys In 1992 and 1996 about 80% of defendants charged with a felony in the Nation’s 75 most populous counties reported having public defenders or assigned counsel while nearly 20% hired an attorney (table 6). Between 1992 and 1996 the percentage of felons in large counties using public defenders increased from 59% to 68% and the percentage with assigned counsel decreased from 21% to 14%. About half of defendants using a public defender or assigned counsel, compared with over three-quarters employing a private attorney, were released from jail prior to trial (table 9). Defendants charged with violent, property, and drug crimes were more likely to have been represented by public defenders or assigned counsel (81%-84%) than those charged with public-order offenses (73%) (table 7). Public-order offenses include weapons, driving-related, flight/escape, parole or probation, prison contraband, habitual offender, obstruction of justice, rioting, libel, slander, treason, perjury, prostitution/pandering, bribery, and tax law violations. State defendants with a criminal record more likely than other defendants to use public counsel Felony defendants with prior convictions were more likely than those without a criminal record to have used a publicly financed lawyer. According to criminal history records available to the court, 86% with a previous conviction and 77% without had public defenders or assigned counsel (table 8). When arrested for their current charge, about 86% of those already on criminal justice status & for example, on pretrial release, probation, or parole & and 79% not on criminal justice status used appointed counsel. Release on bail, a payment to a court to guarantee the defendant’s appearance at subsequent court dates, was awarded to 57% of defendants with public counsel and to 65% with a private lawyer. Of those allowed bail, about a third with a public attorney and three-quarters with a hired attorney were released before adjudication. Table 9. Pretrial release of felony defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by type of counsel, 1996 Pretrial release Type of counsel Public Private Released Financial Nonfinancial Emergency 52.2% 19.2 32.3 0.7 79.0% 51.0 27.7 0.3 Detained With bail Denied bail 46.1 38.2 7.8 20.1 14.3 5.8 1.8 0.9 28,127 6,232 Case closed Number of defendants Note: Data were missing on type of counsel or pretrial release for 36.5% of cases. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996. Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases 5 Table 10. Case disposition for defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by type of counsel, 1996 Type of counsel Case disposition Public Private 75.3% 60.2 56.3 3.9 77.0% 62.7 59.3 3.5 Misdemeanor By plea By trial 15.1% 14.7 0.5 14.3% 13.5 0.8 Not convicted Acquittal Dismissal 24.3% 1.3 23.0 22.8% 1.6 21.2 0.3% 0.2% Convicted Felony By plea By trial Other Number of defendants 29,984 6,583 Note: Data were missing on 32.4% of cases on type of counsel or case disposition. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996. About 3 in 4 State defendants with public or private attorneys were found guilty Conviction rates were about the same for defendants with court-appointed attorneys (75%) and for those who hired private counsel (77%) (table 10). Of those convicted, about 8 in 10 were convicted of a felony and the remainder of a misdemeanor, regardless of type of attorney. Table 11. Sentences for convicted defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by type of counsel, 1996 Sentences Type of counsel Public Private Incarcerated Prison Jail 71.3% 31.0 40.2 53.9% 23.6 30.3 Not incarcerated Probation Fine 28.7% 27.8 1.0 46.1% 43.3 2.9 Number of defendants 20,131 4,666 Note: Cases were missing for 36.4% of cases and excluded for an additional 17.8% that were acquitted, dismissed, or not yet adjudicated. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996. 6 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases Almost a quarter of defendants with publicly financed or private attorneys had their cases dismissed or were acquitted. Just over a fifth had charges dismissed and around 2% were acquitted. State defendants with public counsel sentenced more often to prison or jail but for shorter terms than those with private lawyers Convicted defendants represented by publicly financed counsel were more likely than those who hired a private attorney to be sentenced to incarceration. About 7 in 10 with appointed counsel and 5 in 10 with a private attorney were sentenced to a prison or jail term (table 11). Of defendants sentenced to serve time, those using publicly financed attorneys had shorter sentences than those with private counsel. Those with publicly financed attorneys were sentenced to an average of 2½ years of incarceration and those with private counsel to 3 years (table 12). Similar to drug offenders convicted in Federal court, those sentenced for drug offenses with court-appointed attorneys had shorter sentences (2 years) than those who hired their attorneys (3 years). For other offense categories, sentences were about the same for defendants with public and private attorneys. Table 12. Sentence length to incarceration for defendants convicted of a felony in the Nation’s 75 largest counties, by offense and type of counsel, 1996 Offense and type of counsel Number of defendants Total Public Private 11,089 1,857 31.2 mo 38.3 16 mo 17 Violent Public Private 2,102 381 55.2 mo 59.4 36 mo 36 Property Public Private 3,276 451 27.4 mo 29.7 14 mo 11 Drug Public Private 4,754 773 25.3 mo 38.8 12 mo 21 911 244 19.7 mo 19.9 16 mo 12 Public-order Public Private Sentence length Mean Median Note: Data were missing on sentence length for 42% of cases. Source: BJS, State Court Processing Statistics, 1996 Local jail inmates described their experiences with the criminal justice system In addition to gathering information on defendants in Federal and State courts, BJS sponsors interviews of inmates in local jails and State and Federal prisons. Nationally representative samples of inmates describe their Table 13. Type of counsel for jail inmates, 1996 and 1989 Type of counsel Court appointed Inmate hired Both appointed and hired No counsel Number of jail inmates --Not available. Total 68.1% 16.7 1.2 14.0 483,438 Percent of jail inmates, 1996 Charged Charged with with felony misdemeanor 76.6% 19.2 1.3 2.9 204,700 Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996 and 1989. 56.3% 14.7 0.7 28.3 97,855 1989 total 64.1% 18.5 -17.3 373,259 Table 14. Type of counsel for jail inmates, by type of offense, 1996 Offense Public Table 15. Release before trial and disposition of case with a felony charge, by type of counsel, for convicted jail inmates, 1996 Percent of all jail inmates with counsel Private Both Pro se Violent offenses Homicide Sexual assault Robbery Assault 70.7% 55.5 66.5 78.6 71.6 20.1% 39.5 24.8 16.7 16.2 1.4% 2.5 2.1 0.7 1.2 7.8% 2.5 6.7 4.0 11.0 Property offenses Burglary Larceny Fraud 75.5% 82.0 77.9 65.2 11.5% 9.1 9.6 19.1 1.0% 1.2 0.5 1.9 12.0% 7.7 12.0 13.9 Drug offenses Possession Trafficking 73.0% 74.3 71.1 17.4% 15.7 20.7 1.6% 0.6 2.8 8.0% 9.4 5.5 Public-order offenses Weapons DWI Other public-order 51.8% 68.2 49.7 50.1 18.1% 25.0 28.1 11.1 0.7% 0.1 1.1 0.5 29.4% 6.7 21.2 38.2 Type of counsel Public Private Release before trial* Released Without bail or bond With bail or bond No release Bail or bond set Bail or bond not set In the 1996 Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, most inmates charged with a felony reported they were represented by counsel; 97% had an attorney & 77% a court-appointed counsel and 20% a private attorney (table 13). Over a quarter of jail inmates charged with a misdemeanor had no attorney, and over half used public counsel. The percent of all jail inmates who had been represented by a publicly financed attorney rose from 64% in 1989 to 68% in 1996. Defendants in jail for homicide most likely to hire their own attorneys About 40% of jail inmates charged with homicide hired their own attorney, as did 25% charged with rape or sexual assault, 28% driving while intoxicated, and 25% weapons offenses (table 14). charged with driving while intoxicated reported that they had no lawyer. Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996. lesser charge or fewer counts. An estimated 54% with a publicly financed attorney and 49% with a hired attorney plea bargained. 1 in 4 convicted jail inmates with public counsel and with bail set were released before trial Whether their attorney was appointed or hired, about three-quarters of convicted jail inmates charged with a felony had bail or bond set for them (table 15). Of inmates with bail set, a quarter with a court-appointed attorney and two-thirds with hired attorneys were released on bond before their trial. The lack of financial assets that prevented hiring a private attorney may have also impeded posting bond. Convicted jail inmates with a public attorney were more likely than those with private counsel to have entered a guilty plea after reaching an agreement with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a Prison inmates & those already convicted & reported their experience with their attorneys In 1997 publicly financed attorneys had represented in court proceedings 3 in 4 inmates in State prison and 6 in 10 in Federal prison (table 16). About 1%-2% represented themselves rather than using a lawyer. From 1991 to 1997 the percentage of State inmates with appointed counsel remained the same, while that of sentenced Federal inmates increased from 54% to 60%. Table 16. Type of counsel for State and Federal prison inmates, 1997 and 1991 Type of counsel Public-order defendants were more likely than other defendants to represent themselves in legal proceedings. About 4 in 10 charged with a publicorder offense such as obstruction of justice, a traffic violation, drunkenness, or a violation of probation or parole represented themselves. Two in ten 54.5% 4.1 50.4 45.5 26.0 19.5 Disposition of case Not guilty 14.0% 20.7% Bench trial 7.6 8.7 Jury trial 5.0 10.7 Unknown type of trial 1.4 1.3 Guilty/no contest plea 85.9 79.3 With plea bargain 53.5 48.7 Without plea bargain 32.4 30.6 *Counsel may have been appointed or hired after bail hearing. Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996. personal experiences with the criminal justice system. Jail inmates either may be awaiting trial or sentencing or may be serving their sentence; prison inmates are serving a sentence. 22.5% 3.8 18.7 77.5 57.0 20.5 Court appointed Inmate hired Both appointed and hired No counsel Number of prison inmates Percent of inmates in & State prison Federal prison 1997 1991 1997 1991 73.4% 22.7 1.6 2.2 1,048,236 73.8% 21.2 2.1 2.9 702,116 60.3% 36.4 2.1 1.3 88,483 53.7% 42.1 3.2 1.0 53,342 Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases 7 Prison inmates spoke to courtappointed lawyers later and less often than to private attorneys Of inmates with court-appointed counsel, 37% of State inmates and 54% of Federal inmates spoke with their attorneys within the first week (table 17). In contrast, of those with hired counsel, about 60% of State inmates and 75% of Federal inmates had contact with their attorneys within a week of arrest. Few inmates said they never spoke to their attorneys. Of those with appointed counsel, about 5% of State inmates and 2% of Federal inmates did not discuss their cases with an attorney; of those with hired attorneys, 1-2% never spoke to them. Inmates with appointed lawyers spoke to them less frequently than inmates with private lawyers. About 26% of State inmates and 46% of Federal inmates with court-appointed attorneys discussed their cases with counsel at least four times. An estimated 58% of State inmates and 65% of Federal inmates who employed their own attorneys talked with them four or more times about their charges. Inmates who used public counsel were less likely to proceed to trial than those employing private attorneys. A quarter of both State and Federal inmates with public counsel pleaded not guilty, as did about a third of those with hired attorneys. In an Alford plea the defendant agrees to plead guilty because he or she realizes that there is little chance to win acquittal because of the strong evidence of guilt. About 17% of State inmates and 5% of Federal inmates submitted either an Alford plea or a no contest plea, regardless of the type of attorney. This difference reflects the relative readiness of State courts, compared to Federal courts, to accept an alternative plea. State and Federal inmates who used public attorneys were less likely than those with private attorneys to have been tried by jury. Among State inmates 17% who used appointed counsel and 22% who employed a private lawyer were tried before a jury. Among Federal inmates 21% of those with appointed lawyers and 27% with privately hired counsel had jury trials. State and Federal inmates with public attorneys and those with private lawyers were equally likely to have pleaded guilty to a lesser offense or fewer counts than originally charged. About half had plea bargained, regardless of the type of attorney or the jurisdiction of the court. Table 17. Contact with counsel, type of plea, and case disposition, by type of counsel, for State and Federal prison inmates, 1997 Type of counsel for State inmates Federal inmates Public Private Public Private Contact with counsel Within 24 hours of arrest Within week of arrest More than week before trial Within week of trial At trial Did not talk with counsel 8.8% 27.7 32.8 12.6 13.6 4.5 26.3% 33.9 29.6 4.8 3.5 1.9 17.6% 36.1 33.1 6.6 4.9 1.6 38.2% 36.3 18.4 4.3 1.7 1.2 Number of times talked with counsel 0 1 2-3 4-5 6 or more times 4.6% 24.6 44.5 13.4 12.9 2.0% 9.6 30.6 20.7 37.2 1.7% 10.4 42.3 23.1 22.5 1.3% 6.7 27.0 19.7 45.3 Type of plea* Not guilty Other plea Guilty Alford No contest Other 24.3% 31.4% 25.4% 31.7% 60.6 6.3 11.1 0.4 54.7 6.7 10.3 0.3 71.1 3.0 2.6 0.2 66.3 2.8 1.6 0.1 Case disposition Not guilty plea Bench trial Jury trial Guilty or no contest plea With plea bargain Without plea bargain 24.3% 7.7 16.6 75.7 50.6 25.1 31.4% 9.0 22.4 68.6 47.2 21.4 25.4% 4.5 20.9 74.5 50.5 24.0 31.7% 5.2 26.5 68.3 48.4 19.9 Number of inmates 765,763 236,550 53,215 32,032 * Inmates may have entered more than one type of plea if charged with multiple offenses. Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. 8 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases Table 18. Sentence length and total time to expected release, by offense and type of counsel, for State and Federal inmates, 1997 Offense and type of counsel State inmates Mean time Maximum sentencea to expected Median Mean releaseb Federal inmates Mean time Maximum sentencea to expected Median Mean releaseb Total Private Public 120 mo 114 179 mo 155 96 mo 89 96 mo 96 126 mo 126 104 mo 106 Violent offenses Private Public 180 mo 180 231 mo 223 131 mo 133 156 mo 120 162 mo 164 150 mo 134 84 mo 72 128 mo 118 68 mo 64 36 mo 36 59 mo 59 43 mo 52 Property offenses Private Public Drug offenses Private Public 84 mo 60 140 mo 97 58 mo 46 114 mo 108 132 mo 126 111 mo 107 Public-order offenses Private 54 mo Public 48 98 mo 80 50 mo 48 70 mo 70 119 mo 103 84 mo 85 Note: Because data are restricted to persons in prison, they may overstate the average sentence and time to be served by those entering prison. Persons with shorter sentences leave prison more quickly, resulting in a longer average sentence among persons in the inmate sample. a Based on the total maximum for all consecutive sentences. Means exclude prisoners sentenced to life or death. b Based on time served when interviewed plus time to be served until the expected date of release. Excludes prisoners sentenced to life without expected release or to death. Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. State inmates with public attorneys had shorter sentences than inmates with private counsel On average State inmates who used appointed counsel expected to serve over 7 years on sentences of 13 years, while those who hired their attorneys expected to remain in prison 8 years on sentences of 15 years (table 18). Federal inmates expected to serve an average of almost 9 years for sentences of 10½ years, whether they had appointed attorneys or hired their own. Federal public-order offenders with appointed counsel had on average shorter sentence lengths than those with private counsel (9 versus 10 years). Minority inmates were more likely than whites to have appointed counsel Table 19. State and Federal prison inmates with appointed counsel, by selected characteristics, 1997 Characteristics Percent of prison inmates with appointed counsel State Federal Gender Male Female 73.3% 75.9 60.1% 63.3 Race/Hispanic origin White Black Hispanic Other 69.0% 76.6 73.1 75.2 56.5% 64.7 56.0 73.2 Age 24 or younger 25-34 35-44 45 or older 71.9% 74.1 75.9 68.0 70.8% 64.3 57.8 53.4 Educational attainment Less than high school diploma 78.0% High school diploma or GED 73.2 More than high school diploma 61.1 70.2% 60.6 49.6 Citizenship United States 73.6% 60.7% Other 69.7 58.7 Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. Lower educational attainment among inmates was associated with higher use of court appointed attorneys. Over 7 in 10 with less than a high school diploma or GED used government financed attorneys. Sixty-one percent of State inmates and 50% of Federal inmates who had attended at least some college also had appointed lawyers. In State prisons, while 69% of white inmates reported they had lawyers appointed by the court, 77% of blacks and 73% of Hispanics had public defenders or assigned counsel (table 19). In the Federal system, blacks Drug offenders in State prison who had also were more likely to have public appointed counsel expected shorter defenders or panel attorneys than prison stays on shorter sentences than other inmates; 65% of blacks had those who hired their own lawyers. publicly financed attorneys. About the The average length of stay expected by same percentage of whites and State drug offenders who used Hispanics used publicly financed appointed counsel was 4 years while attorneys (57% of whites and 56% that expected by those who employed of Hispanics). their own lawyers was almost 5 years. Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases 9 Inmates who were unemployed were more likely than other inmates to use court-appointed attorneys About 8 in 10 State inmates without a job before their most recent arrest, compared to 7 in 10 employed full time, had appointed counsel (table 20). Among Federal inmates two-thirds who were not employed and half who were Table 20. State and Federal inmates with appointed counsel, by selected economic characteristics, 1997 Selected economic characteristics 69.6% 75.8 79.4 Over three-quarters of State inmates with monthly personal incomes of less than $1,000 had publicly financed defenders. Less than two-thirds of those with incomes of $2,000 or more per month had publicly financed lawyers. Over two-thirds of Federal inmates with incomes less than $1,000 and nearly half with incomes of $2,000 or more per month had publicly supported attorneys. For both State and Federal inmates, 9 in 10 who were homeless at any time in the year before their most recent arrest had court-appointed counsel. Percent of prison inmates with appointed counsel State Federal Employment at arrest Full time Part time or occasional Not employed employed full time had publicly financed attorneys. 56.6% Type of counsel for prison inmates varied by conviction offense 61.2 67.6 Monthly income at arrest Less than $600 $600-$999 $1,000-$1,999 $2,000 or more 80.1% 76.4 69.9 61.1 71.2% 65.1 58.3 47.1 Homeless at any time in year before arrest Homeless Not homeless 89.5% 71.6 90.6% 58.8 Among State offenders, those serving sentences for burglary, larceny, fraud, or robbery had relatively high rates of court appointed attorneys; about 8 in 10 had publicly financed counsel (table 21). Similarly in the Federal system, 8 in 10 robbery or burglary offenders used public defenders or panel attorneys. Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. State inmates convicted of serious violent and drug offenses made less Table 21. State and Federal prison inmates with appointed counsel, by type of offense, 1997 and 1991 Offense Percent of prison inmates with appointed counsel State Federal 1997 1991 1997 1991 Violent offenses Homicide Rape/sexual assault Robbery Assault 71.7% 67.0 67.5 78.5 72.5 73.0% 65.2 70.4 79.5 75.7 83.4% 76.0 72.3 86.2 80.3 77.5% 76.7 82.2 81.3 62.7 Property offenses Burglary Larceny Fraud 82.8% 84.5 82.3 76.3 82.0% 83.8 82.8 74.0 52.5% 82.6 66.5 46.1 51.8% 79.6 61.8 47.7 Drug offenses Possession Trafficking 69.9% 71.8 68.4 67.8% 69.7 66.6 54.4% 55.8 55.0 48.2% 48.0 48.4 Public-order offenses Weapons Other public-order 68.8% 73.1 67.3 69.7% 70.5 69.5 65.9% 72.8 59.7 48.6% 59.2 39.4 Source: BJS, Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. 10 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases use of publicly financed attorneys. Approximately two-thirds of those convicted of homicide, sexual offenses, drug trafficking, and drug possession reported using public defenders or assigned counsel. Among Federal offenders about half convicted of fraud (46%), drug trafficking (55%), or drug possession (56%) reported using public defenders or panel attorneys. Over 8 in 10 sentenced for rape or other sexual crime, robbery, and burglary used publicly financed attorneys. Methodology Data sources This report uses a variety of data sources. ù Data on Federal court representations were published by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) in their annual, Judicial Business of the United States Court. The AOUSC’s Defender Services Division supplied additional unpublished data. ù The AOUSC also provides BJS with data from their Criminal Master File. This dataset includes defendants in cases terminated each year in the Federal court system. Tables from the data are published each year in the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics. BJS makes these data available on its Federal Justice Statistics website <http://fjsrc.urban.org/index.shtml>. ù In the National Survey of State Court Prosecutors, BJS has surveyed local prosecutors’ offices biennially and several times has asked about types of indigent attorney programs in their jurisdictions. For more information, see the publication Prosecutors in State Courts, 1996 (July 1998, NCJ 170092). The data, together with the code sheet and documentation, are available at <http://www.icpsr.umich. edu/NACJD/bus.html#nps>. In 1999 BJS fielded the National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems to collect data from providers of criminal indigent services. Results are Appendix table 1. Standard error of estimates for the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996 Standard error of the estimates for type of counsel Public Private All jail inmates 0.83% 0.63% Those charged with a & Felony Misdemeanor 1.04% 1.84 0.97% 1.21 Type of offense Violent Property Drug Public-order 1.38% 1.33 1.47 1.81 1.24% 0.91 1.23 1.27 published in Indigent Defense Services in Large Counties, 1999 (BJS Bulletin, NCJ 184932). ù In the State Court Processing Statistics data (formerly known as the National Pretrial Reporting Program) BJS collects a sample of records for felony cases filed in the Nation’s 75 most populous counties in the United States. This survey includes information on the type of attorney used by the defendants. For more information, see Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 1996 (October 1999, NCJ 176981). Data are available at <http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/ bjs.html#scps>. ù Every 5 to 6 years BJS sponsors surveys of inmates in State prisons, Federal prisons, and local jails. In hour-long personal interviews with a nationally representative sample of inmates, respondents are asked about their current and prior offenses, personal and family characteristics, and the processes that resulted in their current incarceration. For further information, see Profile of Jail Inmates, 1996 (April 1998, NCJ 164620) and Substance Abuse and Treatment of State and Federal Prison Inmates, 1997 (December 1998, NCJ 172871). Documentation, codebook, questionnaire, and the public use data files can be accessed at <http://www.icpsr. umich.edu/NACJD/bjs.html#silj> for the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails and at <http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ NACJD/bjs.html#siscf> for the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities. Standard errors and accuracy of the estimates of jail inmates using court appointed counsel is calculated as 68.1% % 1.96(.83), or 66.5-69.7%. The standard error of the difference of two percentages is the square root of the sum of the squared standard errors for each group. For example, also using standard errors from appendix table 1, the 95% confidence interval for the estimated difference in the percentage with appointed counsel for jail inmates charged with a felony (76.6%) or misdemeanor (56.3%) is calculated as 20.3 % 1.96(2.1), or 16.2 to 24.4. Because this interval does not include zero, we can conclude with 95% confidence that the percentages of those charged with a felony or misdemeanor using public counsel are actually different. The accuracy of the estimates presented in this report for the State Court Processing Statistics, Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, and the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities depend on the size of the sampling error. This error, All relationships discussed in the text as measured by an estimated standard of this report are significant at the 95% error, varies with the size of the confidence level. estimate and the size of the base population. EstiAppendix table 3. Standard error of estimates mates of the for the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correcstandard error for tional Facilities selected characteristics have been Standard error of the estimated percent of inmates with appointed counsel calculated for each Characteristic State Federal survey. (See All prison inmates 0.48% 1.02% appendix tables.) Gender These standard Male 0.50% 1.10% errors may be used Female 1.00 2.00 to construct confidence intervals Race/Hispanic origin around White 1.03% 2.39% Black 0.82 2.14 percentages. Hispanic For example, using standard errors from appendix table 1, the 95% confidence interval for the estimated 68% Appendix table 2. Standard errors for felony defendants in the Nation's 75 largest counties, by type of offense, 1996 Standard error of the estimates for type of offense Type of counsel Total Violent Property Drug Public-order Public defender 1.4% 1.0% 2.0% 1.1% 2.7% Assigned counsel 0.7 0.7 0.9 0.9 0.8 Hired attorney 1.4 1.0 2.1 1.0 3.0 Pro se/other 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 1.38 2.68 Educational attainment Less than high school diploma High school diploma or GED More than high school diploma 0.72% 0.71 1.46 1.87% 1.49 2.04 Employment at arrest Full time Part time or occasional Not employed 0.67% 1.32 0.79 1.34% 2.97 1.86 Monthly income at arrest Less than $600 $600-$999 $1,000-$1,999 $2,000 or more 0.70% 1.15 1.06 1.42 1.71% 2.65 2.27 1.99 Offense Violent Property Drug Public-order 0.72% 0.88 1.10 1.64 2.04% 4.05 1.32 2.61 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases 11 Appendix table 4. Standard error of estimates from the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997 Case disposition State inmates Pleas of not guilty Bench trial Jury trial Guilty or no contest plea With plea bargain Without plea bargain Federal inmates Pleas of not guilty Bench trial Jury trial Guilty or no contest plea With plea bargain Without plea bargain Standard error of the estimate for type of counsel Public Private 0.55% 0.34 0.47 1.07% 0.66 0.96 0.55 0.64 0.55 1.10 1.13 0.94 1.18% 0.56 1.10 1.18 1.62% 0.77 1.54 1.62 1.35 1.16 1.74 1.39 12 Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases The Bureau of Justice Statistics is the statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Jan M. Chaiken, Ph.D., is director. BJS Special Reports address a specific topic in depth from one or more datasets that cover many topics. surveys of inmates in State or Federal prisons or local jails; and Greg Steadman reviewed the standard error calculations. William Sabol, formerly of Urban Institute, verified the Federal data from the Criminal Master File. Staff of the Administrative Office of the Caroline Wolf Harlow wrote this report U.S. Courts, Steven R. Schlesinger under the supervision of Allen J. Beck. and Catherine Whitaker of the StatistiIn BJS, Carol DeFrances consulted cal Division, and Theodore J. Lidz, extensively on research approaches Steven G. Asin, George M. Drakalich, and reviewed the State prosecutor and Stephan C. Macartney of the data analysis; John Scalia provided Defender Services Division, provided numbers and reviewed the items and verified data and reviewed text. dealing with Federal defendants; Tim Tom Hester and Ellen Goldberg produced and edited the report. Hart reviewed the section from State Jayne Robinson prepared the report Court Processing Statistics; David Levin assisted in accessing the SCPS for final printing. dataset; Tracy Snell provided a statistical review of material from the November 2000 NCJ 179023