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Hot check charge

Fort Worth, TX |

2nd hot check charge in 10 years.
Unable to afford an attorney or qualify for court appointed one
On third appearance on this case, can I appear without an attorney?

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Attorney answers 2


If you have a good lawyer anything can get anything dropped. It also depends on the judge and your age and prior crimes. Without a good lawyer you will appear in court with no advocate for you or your positions. The decision is yours.

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You state that you are unable to hire a lawyer or qualify for a court appointed one. If you have not tried to get a court appointed lawyer, then you should at least apply. Unless you own property that you could quickly sell to raise money, then you should qualify. (You might be a working, single mother who does not make enough to pay the bills, etc. Bring a balance sheet showing your income & your outgo - to demonstrate there is no money left over after paying reasonable expenses. )

In the meanwhile, contact several local lawyers & explain your situation. You might find that one of the larger, criminal firms will have a newer lawyer that they will allow to take your case on a very low fee budget so that they can get experience. This would be good for you, in that they will also have experienced supervision to give them advice on your case. Regardless, you should get fee quotes from at least 5 lawyers to bring to court with you to (along with your balance sheet) to demonstrate your efforts.)

You can appear without an attorney, but some judges will (illegally) jail you. If you have done the things I have mentioned, you are likely to get an appointed lawyer. (In addition, you need to be saving a few dollars at a time to pay back the hot check. You do not mention how much it is but you will be required to pay it back, as well as some fees and perhaps even court costs depending on the check unless you end up with jail time.)

Finally, to avoid this in the future, if you write a check that you know is not good at the time you write it, it is a violation of the law. If you write a check that you believe is good, but because of fees or something, it bounces, this is NOT a theft by check. However, you are still required to make up the cost to the company. Before they can even file charges, they must send you a certified letter & give you an opportunity to come by and pay for the check and their charges. You cannot just ignore it and it will go away. The law says if you do not pick it up & it is returned undelivered, then it is essentially considered served on you. It is always better to deal with it on the front end by picking up the letter, than to let the thing become a criminal case. It is also much cheaper.)

Best of luck,

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