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

Asked 8 months ago - 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. Kevin P. Barry

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . 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... more
  2. Nicholas V Ditaranto

    Contributor Level 4

    Answered . 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.

  3. Stephen Ross Cohen

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . 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.... more

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