Can I Get An Attorney for Free?

SQ Attorneys

Even though most people know that a defendant in a criminal case has the right to an attorney, there might be some misconceptions as to whether everyone has the right to free legal help. Especially with limited funding for legal resources, it is important to know whether you can obtain no-cost or low-cost legal representation for your defense from a criminal charge.

The six amendment of the Constitution guarantees the “assistance of counsel” for every individual accused of a crime, not someone who is involved in other types of cases such as personal injury or family law. The Constitution does not say anything about whether the government has to pay for that criminal defense attorney. Actually, historically, the law was understood to indicate simply that if you wanted an attorney and could shell out the dough for one, you had every right to do so. But as far as a free lawyer, this was a concept developed over time by the court system itself.

Luckily for defendants in need, however, the rule has generally become that anyone who is low-income and too poor to hire a lawyer has to have one provided to them. Essentially, someone can’t go to jail for either a felony or a misdemeanor without having the assistance of counsel (unless they gave up that right).

As you may have assumed, just saying “I can’t afford an attorney” might very well not do the trick in getting a free attorney. The procedures and specific rules on who gets free representation vary by state and may also vary at the local level. A person usually first gets to ask for a free attorney at their arraignment (or a bail hearing). Once they ask for an attorney and indicate they cannot afford one, a court will often undertake some sort of inquiry into the matter and may delay further proceedings until a determination is made. Key factors affecting a decision may include an individual’s income (if any), as well as the severity and complexity of the crime they are charged with.

If a person qualifies financially, a public defender will be appointed to represent them. This could be someone from the local public defender’s office, a private attorney from the bar association, or a lawyer from the local legal aid office who has taken on the case on behalf of that office.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge (theft or otherwise), immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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