When Am I Entitled to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

According to the sixth amendment to the constitution, a defendant is entitled to hire a criminal defense attorney to protect his or her rights if the suspected person faces a criminal charge that could lead to imprisonment.

When it comes to hiring a lawyer, defendants have two options – a private attorney and a government-appointed lawyer. The former is an expensive choice and those with deep pockets can  only afford it. On the other hand, a government-appointed lawyer is an economic choice. In the latter case, the government pays for service of the lawyer appointed to defend the suspect’s rights during the court proceeding.

Who Has the Right to a Court-Appointed Attorney?

The determining parameter of who can hire an attorney and who cannot is not same in all jurisdictions. Courts take into consideration several factors to assess a defendant’s ability to afford a private attorney. Employment status, income and other liquid assets are a key and so is the cost of government-appointed counsel in the jurisdiction. The affirmative employment status of the defendant never implies that the defendant can afford to pay for an attorney.

The court maintains an absolute authority to determine whether the defendant will sustain financial hardship. As such, you’d  be well served to be represented by an experienced private criminal defense lawyer from a criminal defense law firm like King Law in Syracuse, NY. The court will not consider the defendant’s non-liquid assets and his/her relatives’ assets while determining the person’s ability to afford a private lawyer’s service.

When Can a Defendant Hire a Lawyer?

Any defendant, who is facing a criminal charge that might put the suspect  behind the bar, has a legal right to a criminal defense attorney. The length of imprisonment does not matter at all and the only thing that matters is POSSIBILITY of IMPRISONMEMT. An example might explain the matter. A defendant with an allegation of crime against him or her and facing a maximum imprisonment of six months is entitled to a lawyer, even if the sentence for the crime is imprisonment or probation without jail sentence for six months.

The individuals with the charge of traffic violations against them are not entitled to a government-appointment counsel because the fine is limited to only financial penalty and suspension of license and not imprisonment.

Youth or children are also entitled to a lawyer for their representation in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

When Does a Defendant Have a Right to an Attorney?

Defendants have a right to a lawyer at any critical stage of proceedings.

A critical stage is any point of the criminal proceedings when the defendant’s crucial constitutional rights are at stake and not having a lawyer to represent the case will make a huge difference in its outcome.

Trial is definitely a critical stage and so are the most pretrial hearings as well as some post-trial proceedings.

What If a Defendant Does Not Like the Court-Appointed Attorney?

Only in extreme conditions where a defendant proves that no attorney-client relationship exists at all or the relationship has gone bad, the motion for a change in the attorney  can be granted  by the court.

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