If you’ve been arrested and are looking for a lawyer, you can ask the court to appoint a lawyer on your behalf. However, you will need to provide the court with certain information about your income, assets, and expenses. The court can appoint either a public defender or a panel attorney to represent you. Either one will be on your side and will fight to defend your rights.
The first appearance in court is usually your arraignment, where the judge will ask whether you’re represented by a lawyer or want the court to appoint a lawyer. In order to get a court appointed attorney, you will need to explain your financial situation to the judge during the arraignment hearing. You’ll also need to complete a Financial Affidavit (CR-105), in which you describe your financial situation under oath.
You can also try filing a complaint with your state bar organization, but this would result in immediate conflict of interest. If the judge denied your request, you’ll need to find another public defender to represent you. This drastic measure will likely frustrate the judge who denied your request. You may also have to get a replacement lawyer from the same public defender’s office or a court-appointed panel.
If your current counsel is not up to par, you can ask for a hearing in order to request a new lawyer. You’ll also need to inform your current counsel that you’ve asked the court to appoint a new lawyer.
The fees for court-appointed attorneys vary depending on the type of crime. For example, a wage earner may not be able to afford to hire a lawyer for a minor crime. However, the same wage earner may not have the financial resources to hire an attorney for a serious crime that could result in a lengthy trial. Additionally, each state has specific rules about who qualifies for a court-appointed attorney. If you are not eligible, the court will appoint an attorney for you, and you will be required to reimburse the state for the cost of the attorney.
It’s possible to represent yourself in court, but it’s not always recommended. For example, Bert Martinez, a Phoenix-based revenue and marketing strategist, tried to represent himself in court and got into trouble after sending a cease-and-desist letter to a junk-fax spammer.