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Court Appointed Attorney

San Antonio, TX |

Why is a court appointed attorney not provided for a Class C-theft Misdemeanor? I understand that it's because there is no jail time. Can you still request one if you cannot afford an attorney? The free legal aid places do not handle criminal cases.

And if you defend yourself, how do you go about getting the evidence from the prosecutor?

Attorney Answers 3


You have answered your own question - you do not get a court appointed attorney on a class C misdemeanor because a Class C is punishable by fines only - no jail time (although you could serve jail time if you do not pay your fines and court costs.)

If you defend yourself and you want evidence from the prosecutor, you write up a motion asking specifically for that evidence. Just put the case and court information at the top of the page, address the motion to the judge, put in the body what you want, and put your signature block. Include a certificate of service to sign saying you gave a copy to the prosecutor, and including an order for the judge to sign granting or denying your motion. File the original, give a copy to the prosecutor, and get a ruling from the judge.

FYI, most lawyers who try Class C cases do not conduct discovery on them. In addition, items that are not in the prosecutor's care must be subpoenaed by you - the prosecutor is not required to produce something s/he does not have.

Lawyers on Class C tickets do not cost that much. It is worth it to get a lawyer to represent you.

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Why is court appointed counsel not provided for Class C cases? Two reasons. First, the Supreme Court doesn't require court appointed counsel in cases that don't involve jail time as a punishment (see Gideon V. Wainright). Second, ticket cases are not about justice. They are about money. Local governments makes a killing on these meaningless cases. It's a cash cow.

That is why you need a lawyer. Don't be naive. The judge and prosecutor are not looking out for your interests. You need a ticket defense lawyer. Most are very reasonably priced. Start calling ticket lawyers today. Don't go to court alone. You will be taken advantage of.

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As a side bar comment - it is unfortunate that civilians cannot get the same great deals that attorneys can get on class C offenses. I believe the reason for that is because the prosecutors know that they can easily out perform a citizen in a courtroom. The biggest reason for that is due to the lack of knowledge of the Rules of Evidence. You may have to work something out with a lawyer in order to gain his/her assistance in the negotiating as well as a potential trial.

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