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

UPDATED: Aug 27, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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