How do I get a Public Defender?

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How do I get a Public Defender?

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You ask for one from the court. The federal Constitution guarantees the accused in a criminal trial the right to an attorney, and this has been interpreted to mean that a lawyer must be provided to an indigent, or poor, defendant who cannot afford his or her own attorney. (Note: a criteria for a court apppointed attorney is that you must be *unable* to afford your own lawyer--not just that you'd rather not pay for one). What these attorneys are called and how they are organized and paid varies both from one state to another, and sometimes with a state: they may be called public defenders, or legal aid; they may work for a government office or be private attorneys who are compensated by the courts for taking poor criminal defendants; etc. But in any event, if you can't afford an attorney, you have the right to have one appointed for you--ask the court for a lawyer.


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