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.
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.
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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.