The legal system upholds one thing, and that is, every accused person has the right to get legal representation. According to the sixth amendment of the constitution of the United States, any criminal defendant is guaranteed a defense attorney. That is if you cannot hire for yourself. However, if you can hire, no one will stop you from doing so because it is your right.
Also, one of the Miranda rights which an arresting officer recites to a criminal defendant is that he/she has the right to a court-appointed attorney. Thus, when you are facing criminal charges and cannot pay for a lawyer, the court can appoint a defense attorney for you. It is already your right so all you need is to ask for the court to appoint one and that will conclude it. However, there are certain processes you must follow if you want a lawyer from the court to defend you.
Steps to Follow While Getting a Court Appointed Lawyer
Cross-Check the Fundamentals of the Case
Qualifying to get a court-appointed attorney depends on the type of case you have. That is why the first thing you need to do is to review your case to check the basics. If your criminal offence is minor and will not likely lead to jail sentence after conviction, there may be no need for a lawyer’s representation. However, cases that come from Child Protective Services with the intention to terminate the rights of a parent are entitled to a lawyer.
Evaluate your Finances
Before you can qualify to get a court-appointed lawyer, your financial situation will undergo an evaluation. The judge may even require the evidence that proves your financial hardship. This review will prove that you cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney for yourself. Moreover, it should also prove that paying an attorney for your case will cause serious lack on your family and you. However if in the long run, the judge gets the proof that you are capable of paying for the lawyer, you will pay the fees.
Show your Appreciation for A Lawyer
Some criminal defendants waive away their rights to have a court-appointed attorney to represent them. Most times, it is not beneficial to them. Therefore, you should show that you know the benefits of having an attorney represent your case.
Ask the Court to Appoint You a Lawyer
The opportunity for you to request for an attorney from the state is when you come for your bail hearing of arraignment. Make sure to be at the hearing on time if you are not already in confinement. At the hearing, the judge will ask you if you have a lawyer’s representation. If your answer is no, the judge will ask if you will like the court to appoint one for you. If you say yes, then the judge will appoint a lawyer who is already present in the court to represent you. He or she will help you throughout the entire hearing.
Acquaint yourself with the Differences between a Panel lawyer and a Public Defender
Depending on your case or the state of your residence, you may get a panel lawyer instead of a public defender. Their difference is that panel lawyers are defense lawyers that work privately. They also accept cases from the court in addition to their private cases. On the other hand, public defenders work in a government agency that offers a defense to the public. Thus you should know their differences to help you understand the one the court appointed for you.
Interact with your Lawyer
Remember to get the details of your court-appointed attorney so that you can communicate with him or her. The lawyer will pay you visits if you are still in confinement but if you are out on bail; try to interact with him or her. Don’t be afraid of communicating with your court-appointed lawyer. Moreover, anything you expose to your lawyer will be under client-attorney confidentiality.
Every criminal defendant is entitled to get a court-appointed lawyer to represent him or her. However, your eligibility to get a court-appointed lawyer or a reduced cost representation lies on your present financial status. You will not be qualified unless it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that you cannot afford to hire an attorney. Furthermore, you have to demonstrate that paying for a lawyer will sap your financial situation. Also, you must prove that such expense will cripple your family finances.