Hiring A Lawyer Vs. Getting A Public Defender In New York
In the state of New York, as in most other states if you are not considered poor or indigent then you are generally on your own which is probably for the best. Officials in city and local government are often struggling with funding problems that they face. Funding problems at the city and local government level are only resolved when total expenses don’t exceed tax revenues. In order to alleviate these funding problems, government officials look for creative ways to implement spending cuts, typically on welfare programs that don’t actually benefit the poor much. Public welfare whether in the form of housing, food, financial assistance, legal assistance or medical help is oftentimes offered without many prerequisites however, accepting something for free may lead you to be involved in an embarrassing situation or potentially worse consequences depending on the circumstances.
The Legal Aid Society represents people who are considered indigent or too poor to hire a lawyer after getting arrested or receiving a desk appearance ticket in New York. People are determined to be indigent by court based on their assets, income and other pertinent financial information. In some instances, the court may require a person to swear, under oath to specifics regarding their financial circumstances such as income, bank account details or tax information. In the state of New York, a person would be eligible for a public defender based on their assets and net income. For example, if you have a net annual income of $29,700, then you are presumably eligible for a public defender such as a legal aid lawyer depending on your assets and other pertinent variables. However, even if you do qualify for a public defender, it is not mandatory and it is always advisable to hire your own attorney.
In the state of New Jersey, the Office of the Public Defender does not decide your eligibility for a public defender, instead the court makes this decision based on information pertaining to your financial circumstances in a 5A Form which outlines all your income and debts. The public defender in New Jersey doesn’t represent you for free but they are required by state law to collect a reasonable fee from you. Non-payment may result in a judgment or a lien. The public defender can only represent those who can’t afford an attorney in Los Angeles. Defendants have to fill out a financial statement and even if they qualify, they have to pay a registration fee of $50. Eligibility for a public defender is determined on a case by case basis in Los Angeles. In Chicago, the court appoints a public defender for an indigent defendant based on an affidavit of assets and liabilities. Any false statements made in that affidavit may lead to sanctions imposed by the court for perjury.
Although local and state governments expend efforts in trying to reduce spending and cope with a lack of adequate funding, spending cuts will be effected to reduce spending on unwarranted or wasteful matters. The once liberal attitude fostered by the government in providing free legal help is deteriorating at a rapid pace. However, this may be for the best because whether or not you qualify for a public defender, you will benefit by hiring a private attorney because then you can select someone who is the right fit for your case and private attorneys are known to have more experience and time to devote to defending their clients in court. If you have been arrested or been issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, it is advisable that you contact a competent and qualified criminal defense attorney such as David Mirsky to handle your case efficiently and diligently.