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I was lied to at a court hearing by judge assistant (public defender), what can I do?

Sacramento, CA |

After requesting a public defender I was moved outside of the courtroom to speak with the in court assistant, he told my he was a public defender and when I inquired about getting a no cost court appointed attorney he told me that was not possible and I would have to pay $250 for a public defender.

After agreeing to represent myself to the judge I was asked to sign a waiver of counsel form, the last part of the form states: "After being made aware of all the above, including my right to counsel, which would be court-appointed at no cost to me if i cannot afford to hire my own, I still desire to represent myself and waive my right to counsel".

As you see, the form itself says if I qualify I can get a no cost court appointed attorney. Can I challenge this or is it too late?

Attorney Answers 3


No, it's not too late. You can always go back and ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you. You should be aware that the court can hold a hearing at the end of your case to determine if you can pay some or all of the costs of the public defender or another court-appointed attorney. Just politely tell the judge that you cannot afford to hire an attorney and would like court-appointed counsel.

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First of all this only becomes an issue if you really can't afford the 250 dollars. If you are truly indigent you should challenge both the requirement of paying 250 and the fact that the self-representation from states the public defender is a no cost.

How should you do this? I suggest calling the local bar association and explaining your situation. The public defender should argue on persons in your situation that there should be no fee. However, they may be requiring people to pay that fee, in which case if they refuse to help you I'd argue they are in conflict and you should ask for conflict free counsel at no charge.

The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.

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$250 for an attorney is nothing. You are only entitled to a free attorney if you truly have zero money.

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at

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