Your Right to an Attorney
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD AN ATTORNEY, ONE WILL BE PROVIDED TO YOU. There is a reason that you have this right. It is because lawyers have been taught how to navigate the criminal justice system. They know the process and they know how to ensure that your rights are carefully protected at every stage of the process. They also know about evidence, how to challenge evidence that hurts you, how to obtain and present evidence that helps you, and how to keep out or discredit evidence that is tainted in some way.
If you know you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, you should tell the Judge in your case at your first hearing. He or she may have questions about your assets and income that they will ask to see if you can afford a lawyer. If you can’t, they will appoint a lawyer to represent you in your case. This “public defender” has the same duty to represent your interests and protect your rights as any lawyer you hire on your own.