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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26776
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hello, my 20 year old son is an inmate in Beauregard Parish,

Customer Question

Hello, my 20 year old son is an inmate in Beauregard Parish, he was picked up while walking to a pay phone to call for a jump-the truck of the person he was with would not start after being at a do-it-yourself car wash, in Cameron Parish, (he was not driving even before being at the car wash). The officer ran his name a a probation warrant showed up. So, he's awaiting court for probation violation. First off, when he origionally went to court in Beauregard for a speeding ticket and driving under suspension, he was not able to be represented, the judge ordered all public defenders out of the courtroom. My son had no clue what to do and pled guilty to both charges and was given probation. It seems to me that not being able to have a public defender is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Please clarify this for me...."You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you free of charge"--DOES NOT STATE except in Beauregard Parish. Were his rights violated?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

You are correct. There is a right to counsel for a defendant on a criminal case if he wishes to have one. If he cannot afford one, he can tell that to the judge and ask the court to apoint him a public defender.

Are you saying that your son asked the judge for a lawyer and was denied that? Or are you saying he took a plea without telling the judge that he first wanted to speak to a lawyer?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I do believe he did tell them that he needed a public defender. I believe he just took a plea, not knowing any different, because the judge ordered ALL public defenders out of the courtroom...I told this to someone at the Beauregard DA's office and I got told that "if he doesn't have his own attorney, then oh well, and that he would not get a public defender for hearing he is about to got to on this coming Monday afternoon". What kind of recourse does he have at this point? When he goes before the judge monday, should he demand to be represented by the PDO? I know the time limit is short here, and I apologize. I will be going from where we live, Lake Charles, LA, to his court in Beauregard on Monday. Is there anything that you know of that I can do while there? Thank You so much for your help.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

I am not surprised that your son was kept in jail, as he came back involuntarily because of a warrant, and the matter was put over just for a short date for probation to get their file and prepare their case. Near as I can figure, your son is on the calendar for a hearing on his violation of probation. He should be entitled to have a lawyer represent him at that hearing, as probation will be deciding what sanctions he will be facing on the warrant matter and that will decide what penalties he'd face for the traffic infractions,

If he had a lawyer on that old case who was with him when your son took the plea to probation, you ought to try to reach him and let him know that your son has been violated and will be in court for a hearing on Monday afternoon. With luck, he'd be available for the hearing. As the attorney of record on the underlying offense, this would still be his case. So your son could ask for his lawyer to be notified or for a public defender. If he's denied a lawyer and he doesn't like the way Monday comes out, he'll have at least put his request for an attorney on the record, and that could give him some grounds to appeal the sentence.

But the real problem here is the violation of probation. But for that, he'd have probably ended up just paying fines. Defendants who are already on probation don't have all of the same rights that other people get, because they have already been sentenced. And I'm confident that when your son first pled guilty he was told how much jail he might be facing if he violated the terms of probation. That's what's hanging over his head, and if probation no longer wants to work with your son on the old case, they will ask the judge to resentence him and make a recommendation to the court of how much time they think he should do.

As you can see, a lawyer's hands are somewhat tied in these situations. Usually with a violation, probation gets what it asks for and there isn't a lot of bargaining room. If they give him time on the violation, the judge would likely run the traffic matters together with that so that when he comes out, he doesn't have to worry about probation any more. If probation decides to let him have another chance, then he gets out and attends probation for both matters.

Without knowing what his warrant is for and how long it's been out there against him, I cannot tell you how much good a lawyer is likely to do on Monday, but if he really doesn't know what's going on, he has to let the judge know that and ask for an attorney.


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This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your State for specific legal advice.