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Do I qualify for a public defender in the state of NY?

New York, NY |

I was recently arrested for shoplifting in Manhattan and was given a desk appearance ticket. I am in my early twenties and am between jobs, so I have no income. I'm living with my uncle for free because I can't afford a place, so I definitely can't afford a private lawyer. Am I qualified for a public defender? I don't know if my parents' income affect whether I am, but they live in another state and probably make something between $35K-$50K. I plan on bringing my bank statement to my desk appearance, but is that enough?

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Attorney answers 4


Yes--you qualify

Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
Immediate Past President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
Garden City, NY 11530
516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)

I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.


If you are an adult your parents' income is not relevent. If you have no income and no assets then you are indigent and qualify.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Bring along your tax record also.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


Assuming you have no other assets in your name; i.e. property, retirement accounts, trusts, annuities, etc. it sounds like you qualify. Your parents income is irrelevant because you are not a minor. I would also suggest bringing last year's tax return.

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