If one is arrested but not charged with a crime and they fully believe they are innocent of the charges, can they ask for a public defender (even if they have a job) to help with the initial stages of dealing with the system. Then if they happened to be charged, can they hire a different attorney and replace the public defender? (This question might be addressed to a biased audience but the audience's advice is indeed appreciated)
You will not be able to apply for a public defender until you are formally charged. Additionally, once you are formally charged, the question of whether you will be assigned a public defender is determined based upon income level. So if you have a job you may be above the threshold income limit.
You cannot apply for a public defender until you have been charged with a crime. Whether or not you will get a public defender depends on your income level. Certain things, such as owning a house or property, will automatically disqualify you from getting a public defender. Once you have a public defender you may replace him with private counsel.
James L. Yeargan, Jr. is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. All information given is based only on Georgia law, and is not directly applicable to any other jurisdictions, states, or districts. Any answer given assumes the person who asked the question holds a Georgia Drivers License, and this license is not a commercial drivers license (CDL). This response, or any response, is not legal advice. This response, or any response, does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information. Any state specific concerns should be directed to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in that respective state.
A public defender is not an OPTION. A public defender is what you settle for when you have no other choice. If you can afford to hire an attorney then you shouldn't qualify for the public defender to begin with. That's like saying, "can I live in a public housing project until my mansion is complete?" No, because if you can afford a mansion, you don't qualify for public housing.
Generally, you cannot get a court-appointed attorney until you are formally charged with a crime. Then it will depend on how much money you actually make at your job. I disagree with my colleague who denigrated public defenders. They are among the finest, most dedicated champions of justice in the legal system.
You can't be arrested and not charged with anything. It's always advisable to hire an attorney before attempting any representation. (criminal defense or other). Public Defender's are usually over worked and underpaid and handle way too many cases at any given time to show personal attention to each and every case they have before them at any given time. Not saying that they aren't good attorney's, just overloaded. If you have a job, depending on how much you make and what their guidelines are will determine if you are qualified for an appointment. Just do your homework should you decide to hire an attorney. You will want someone who has been doing this for a while and knows the ropes. Trial attorney is recommended. Someone who goes to court on a daily basis should be preferred.
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