Skip to main content

Can a judge refuse to grant a request for a public defender if you meet the income eligibility requirements?

Paramus, NJ |

I qualify for a public defender based on the income criteria here in nj. I have 3 disabled children and am unable to work because there is no one to care for them in my absence. No private babysitter or day care facility will accept responsibility to care for them. Even the teachers and therapists that come to my house require that I am home because they cannot be responsible for them in my absence. I receive Social Security benefits as my only source of income. The judge has decided that my situation is not an acceptable excuse for not being employed and is refusing to let me have a public defender.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. What does your public defender think? Does he want you to represnt yourself?

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none, but many will offer a free consultation and a face to face meeting generally will be better, I like my clients to write a short one page history of the fact and questions they have prior to meeting with them, so nothing is forgotten.


  2. Something doesn't sound right. If you truly have no income than how are you supporting your children. The standard for a pd is very low and I have a hard time believing you are being denied an attorney if you fit the criteria. More info us needed. Contact an attorney or speak to the pd in that court directly.

    DISCLAIMER This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State where this offense is charged; and, who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about and with whom you would have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State where this charge is filed. I am an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey. Consult a local attorney if your case arises outside the State of New Jersey. If you found this answer to be HELPFUL then you can vote that this answer was helpful. If you found this answer to be the BEST ANSWER of all those presented, then you can vote that this answer was the best answer presented. Also, please be advised that any response to any comments made by the asker do not create an attonrey client relationship


  3. You have a right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney one should be provided for you. So if you truly cannot afford an attorney your only option is to defend yourself. When you do, every time you go to court make a statement on the record that you cannot afford an attorney and you are being denied your right to an attorney and are being forced to represent yourself. The judge will either then appoint a public defender, or let you represent yourself. If you lose, then you may have a good reason to appeal.

Civil rights topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics