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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23561
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I can't afford a lawyer, can the judge deny me a public

Customer Question

I can't afford a lawyer , can the judge deny me a public defender
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

Eligibility for a public defender varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction depending upon the volume of criminal cases and the number of available public defenders. Public defenders are for indigent clients, however. It would be a hardship of some kind for most of us to have to pay for a lawyer, but the ones who get public defenders are generally the ones without any assets they can borrow against, without any credit, and living at or under the state poverty level. Also, in many jurisdictions if the state isn't asking for jail time for the offense, a public defender does not have to be provided.

Call the public defender's office and go over their eligibility requirements with them. If they agree that you qualify for a public defender, they may be willing to come to court and try to convince the judge to appoint you or help you prepare for an indigency hearing to show that judge that you can't possibly afford a lawyer without incurring substantial hardship.

Otherwise, this is the judge's call to make and you will either have to hire a private lawyer or go forward pro se without representation. If his decision costs you the case, you can appeal the denial of your 6th Amendment right to counsel down the road.