"In our adversary system of criminal justice, any person hauled into court who is too poor to hire a lawyer cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him". - Justice Hugo Black Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, at 345 (1963)
Do I need a lawyer?
The U.S. Supreme Court has stated "Lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries." (Gideon, supra at 344)
"The very premise of our adversary system of criminal justice is that partisan advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective that the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free". (Herring v. New York, 422 U.S. 853, at 862)
"Of all the rights that an accused person has, the right to be represented by counsel is by far the most pervasive for it affects his ability to assert any other rights he may have". (U.S. v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, at 654)
Additionally, criminal convictions can trigger more than direct consequences such as jail, fines, and fees. They can also affect one's employment opportunities, voting rights, deport-ability, access to student loans, public housing, state licensing for various professions, and other collateral consequences.
Yes, it's best to have a skilled lawyer guide you through the criminal justice process. It's the responsible thing to do.
How do I get a Public Defender?
Generally, the court determines financial eligibility and then assigns a public defender at your first courtroom appearance at arraignment.
Our office has lawyers in all criminal courtrooms every work day.
If one needs legal assistance for a police interrogation or line-up, call our office directly for advice and service. You can also contact us via our contact page.