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Why It's Hard to Qualify for Legal Aid in Texas

Are you facing criminal charges in Texas? If so, you may be wondering, “Do I qualify for a public defender?” If you are indigent, or “very poor,” you may qualify for a public defender, but if you have a job, own a home, or have any measurable assets, there is a good chance that you will not qualify for any legal aid.

According to the Texas Judicial Branch, “funding for legal services is extremely limited and as a result, programs must turn away many with serious legal needs.” In other words, if your income does not qualify you for legal aid, you will need to hire a private criminal defense attorney.

The Texas courts do not:

  • Provide criminal defendants legal services.
  • Have a list of pro bono lawyers for defendants.
  • Match pro bono attorneys with defendants.
  • Represent criminal defendants in their criminal matters.

In July of 2012, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released, Improving Indigent Defense in Texas in which it said, “Indigent defense is broken in Texas – and throughout the United States – and it has been broken for decades.” The article went on to explain how two of the most significant problems involved conflicts of interest and excess caseloads.

Unfortunately, most defense attorneys in Tarrant and Dallas counties would agree with the Texas Public Policy Foundation – indigent defense is a broken system. That being said, those criminal defendants who are able to retain a private criminal defense lawyer are at a definite advantage. Not because public defenders are bad defense lawyers, but because private defense attorneys have more time and resources to properly defend their clients’ cases.

Should You Hire a Private Attorney?

If you are facing criminal charges in Plano or Dallas, you may or may not qualify for legal aid. It all depends on your income and assets and the nature of your charges. Even if you do qualify for a public defender, if a private defense attorney is an option at all, you may want to seriously consider it because you can rest assured that your case will receive the time and attention it deserves.

Facing criminal charges? Contact our firm to work with a top-rated legal team with a track record of success in Plano, Texas.