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NYC Criminal Defense Attorney

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer After Arrest or Desk Appearance Ticket?


If You're not Considered poor, You may be on your own Following Arrest (but it's probably for the better)

City and local government are often grappling with ways to solve funding problems. This can happen when total expenses exceed tax revenues. To solve this problem, cities and states look for creative ways to cut spending on welfare programs that don’t actually benefit the poor. Social welfare, whether in the form of housing, food, temporary financial assistance, or legal or medical help is something that is sometimes offered without many questions being asked but accepting something for Evaluation can lead to an embarrassing situation or worse if you aren't eligible.

In New York City, the legal aid society represents those who are deemed too poor to hire a lawyer following arrest or desk appearance ticket. The court generally makes this decision based on your assets, income, and other financial information. On occasion, the court can ask you to swear, under oath, to specifics regarding your financial circumstances such as income and bank account details or ask for tax returns. According to the State of New York, eligibility for a public defender such as legal aid lawyer is based on assets and net income. If your net income was $29,700 (family of 1 in 2016) you are presumptively eligible for a public defender subject to an analysis of your assets and other variables. The legal aid society bases eligibility for some of its services on 125% of the federal poverty which was about $12,000 in 2016. Even if you qualify for the public defender, this is not mandatory and you may always hire your own lawyer. You can read more about New York public defender eligibility here:

In New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (NJOPD) doesn’t decide whether you qualify for a public defender. Instead, the court makes this decision based on information you submit about your financial circumstances in a “5A Form” which details your income and debts. The New Jersey public defender (NJOPD) doesn’t actually represent you for Evaluation. Instead, they are required, by NJ state law, to collect a reasonable fee from you. If you don’t pay, it can result in a judgment or a lien which could damage your credit history and lead to other collection procedures.

In Los Angeles, the public defender can only represent those who can’t afford an attorney. Defendants must complete a financial statement and even if you qualify, you must pay a registration fee of $50. In some situations, the judge will also examine your finances to see if you qualify. Eligibility isn’t determined based on a specific income or amount of net assets but is on a case by case basis. If bail is set and you can’t afford to bail yourself out of jail, the court presumes that you can’t afford a lawyer. Other factors include income, family size, and housing costs.

In Chicago, the public defender is appointed by a judge if, based on an affidavit of assets and liabilities, you are deemed to be too poor to hire a lawyer. Because an affidavit is involved, there is a risk of perjury for any false statements made in order to trick the judge into appointing someone.

In England, the cost of legal aid spending on criminal defendants was reduced by seizing property from criminal defendants. This seized property would be auctioned and the proceeds would cover some or all of the government’s spending on their criminal defense lawyers.

As local and state governments try to reduce spending and cope with a lack of interest in raising taxes, cuts will be made to reduce spending that is considered unwarranted or wasteful. A once liberal attitude to providing Evaluation legal help is quickly deteriorating. Therein may lie a silver lining. Whether or not you qualify for a public defender, you may be benefited by a private attorney because by hiring a lawyer you can select someone who is the right fit for your case and private attorneys often have more experience and more time to devote to defending you in court.