How do I plead to a criminal charge if I can’t afford an attorney?

I have been summoned to court on an obstruction charge; I admitted to helping 2 teens that had run away from home and not telling the full truth to the police. I was seeking aid for the boys as there were claims of abuse that I still believe to be true. I am indigent, homeless in the next 4 days and have a pregnant daughter from 1 of said runaways who ran away again last month. My daughter is 14 and needs me; I can’t go to jail or pay a fine. I want to move out of state for health reasons and employment. How do I plead? What do I do? The officer in charge will not ticket me, if DA drops.

Asked on August 27, 2011 Wisconsin

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you can't afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed to represent you.  This would be through the Public Defender's office. 

You should plead not guilty. 

If you plead guilty, there is no trial and you will be sentenced.


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