Suppose you, or someone you love was recently arrested for a crime in Dallas
or Collin County. Should you apply for a court-appointed
criminal defense lawyer? Will you even qualify for one? Do you really need a defense attorney anyway?
For starters, you definitely NEED a defense lawyer. Not only are the courts
complex, but Texas has some of the harshest fines and penalties in the
nation. It is critical to have a defense attorney by your side throughout
the criminal process, but will it be a court-appointed lawyer or a private
criminal defense attorney?
As soon as you are arrested, you should swiftly obtain a defense lawyer.
If you are under investigation for a crime and you have yet to be arrested,
you can involve an attorney before criminal charges are filed –
that’s even better than waiting for an arrest.
After the Arrest
Let’s say that you are arrested for a crime. After the arrest, you
will appear before a magistrate (judge), who will inform you of your rights
and address the issue of bail and whether or not you’re eligible.
At this point, tell the magistrate that you want an attorney. If anyone,
including the magistrate or a detective, tells you that you cannot have
a lawyer, that is not the case – you have a right to an attorney.
Be polite, and calmly express your desire for an attorney.
Not everyone qualifies for a court-appointed lawyer. Court-appointed attorneys
or public defenders are for defendants who are “indigent”
or otherwise “extremely poor.” If a defendant wants a public
defender, he or she must complete a financial questionnaire or financial
demonstrate that they can’t afford to hire a private criminal defense lawyer.
When defendants show up to court without an attorney and they want a court-appointed
lawyer, they are encouraged to bring pay stubs and bank statements, and
even copies of their bills, especially if they are out on bond. Even when
defendants bring such documentation to court, sometimes the judge will
still tell him or her to try and hire their own defense attorney, or at
least seek advice from a private lawyer before their next court appearance.
Will Your Request Be Denied?
In order to qualify for a court-appointed lawyer, your income must be low
enough for you to meet the eligibility requirements. If you have a decent
job, or if your income is decent, the chances of you qualifying for a
court-appointed attorney are slim. If your request for a court-appointed
lawyer is denied, you will need to hire a private defense lawyer, which
is not a bad thing.
Private defense attorneys don’t have the same heavy caseload as public
defenders, so they are able to give their clients’ cases the time
and attention they deserve. If you are looking for a private criminal
lawyer in Dallas or Collin County,
contact our firm today.