Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
If you qualify for a public defender at your first trial, then you do for your second. It differs from state to state and county to county, but most who want a public defender qualify for one. (Especially if your income is less than $50k a year).
I did not know about public defenders and did not have one at my first trial. what about if I have a house with equity?
I realize appeal could cost more, but public defenders are free.
So as long as you qualify, you don't have any financial liability at all.
All due respect to my colleague, I believe he has inadvertently provided you some inaccurate information. I'm a Florida criminal defense attorney, just a few counties north of you, and I believe I can help you out.
Please give me a few minutes to type up a thorough response to your issues.
In his first post, Mr. Severino indicated that the appointment varied "from county to county". This is incorrect. Florida statutes have specific requirements, this applies to ALL counties.
He further indicated that the appointment of the public defender (PD) was probable, "if your income is less than $50k a year." While income is a factor, Florida statutes specifically discuss ownership or property and use this more as a guideline than income.
In his next post, he indicated that, if you "couldn't AFFORD" an attorney, you have a constitutional right to an attorney. This is a common misperception, Florida statutes don't care if you can AFFORD an attorney, it cares if you are INDIGENT. There's a difference. For example, if you make $200,000 a year and your bills are $201,000 a year, you may not be able to AFFORD an attorney but you certainly are not INDIGENT.
He next indicated that "public defenders are free." In Florida, this is not true. By law, the fee for a PD is anywhere from $200 to $3,500 per case. While it is certainly less than hiring a private attorney, it is not free. Again, a common misperception.
He further indicated you would have no "financial liability". As you can see from the previous paragraph, this is not accurate. Further, if you don't pay at that time, the PD's office will place a civil lien against your home. That lien will remain in place for 20 years.
I have no doubt Mr. Severino meant well and I'm sure the information would be accurate in his home state. However, here in Florida, the law is a bit different.
Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.
Thanks Joseph. my salary is only 32,000. would I qualify?
According to Florida statutory requirements, you do not qualify for a PD. Additionally, your income also creates a presumption of NOT being indigent, and therefore not being entitled to a PD.
Having said that, you can still TRY. As you likely know, you have to file a notice of intent to appeal within 30 days of the verdict. When you file the notice, go ahead and file a motion requesting the appointment of the PD. While the request will likely be denied, it doesn't hurt to try. However, please know that even filling out the application for the PD has a charge, it's $50.
I am going off-line for the evening. Please feel free to respond, if necessary, and know that I will be back on-line tomorrow.
Thank you for your patience.
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