What happens when your not appointed a lawyer but can't afford one? and your case has been adjourned like 3x. What happens ?

Asked over 4 years ago - Farmingdale, NY

What happens when you can't afford a lawyer and the judge won't appoint one for you even though you have the proof you can't afford one? Our case has been adjourned three times and this tuesday is the next court date

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Donalda Jean Gillies

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Unfortunately, there is something of a gap between being financially eligible for court assigned counsel (i.e., very poor or indigent) and being unable to afford to hire an attorney. Many people cannot afford to hire most attorneys in their area, yet are making too much to qualify for assigned cousel. It's an evaluation something akin to Welfare -- if you make too much or own too much, you can't get it even if you are struggling.

    If you are working, or have assets or skills, you may want to talk to the local bar association for referrals. Some lawyers will agree to accept payments. Some may let you work off their bill. Keep looking! Contact every attorney in the phone book, if you must. These can be hard times for some attorneys, too, and someone may take the case for less than they might have at other times, unless it is likely to be difficult or lengthy.

    DISCLAIMER: This answer to a short simplified question is provided solely for general informational purposes only. This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.

  2. Theodore W. Robinson

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . While I agree with both prior answers, there is also the thought that you may have to make getting a lawyer a bigger priority or you won't need whatever money you have for other things because you could be in jail. Then you could lose everything else you may already have in your life.

    Or you can go back and make yet another application for a pro bono lawyer through the local bar association or for assigned counsel lawyer through court again and see what the judge says this time through. Sometimes their opinions will change over time if you are absolutely sincere and can truly prove you can't afford an attorney.

    Good luck.

  3. Karyn T. Missimer

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . While I agree with the first answer, the hard truth is you may end up representing yourself. Explain your situation to the judge again on the next court date and try to get another continuance. But, if the judge will not grant another continuance, you may need to be prepared to tell the judge how you want to proceed: plead, court trial, or jury trial.

    When speaking to more attorneys, you may find one willing to look at the evidence in your case and advise you on the process/what you should do for a lesser fee than if the attorney was representing you in court and on the record. Some behind the scenes help, if you will.

    Also, a local law school or bar association may be able to direct you to attorneys who will represent you pro bono.

    Good luck!

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