If I have no money for lawyer and I’m facing criminal charges, what shouldI do?

I am facing charges of stealing $24,300from my employer. I’m being arrested tomorrow. Do I need to have a criminal law attorney?

Asked on October 24, 2011 under Criminal Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are facing criminal charges--especially for stealing $24k, which is a substantial felony (e.g. you can do several years in jail as a punishment--you *definitely* want an attorney.

Under the Constitution, if you can't afford an attorney--and that means literally cannot afford one; you don't have the money, not just that you'd rather not spend your money on a lawyer--an attorney must be appointed for you. If you can afford you own lawyer get one--legal aid attorneys, public defenders, etc. are good but overworked and without too little in the way of resources; you'll generally get better representation from an attorney you hire. But if you simply can't afford one, tell the authorities and the judge and you have to be given one.


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