Is everyone entitled to a court appointed attorney in a federal criminal case? 38 Answers as of June 03, 2013

My father was denied a court appointed attorney when being charged with 2 counts of making a false statement. His only income is a pension and Social Security. Also if he does represent himself, how does he request the case being dismissed and his "plea" hearing.

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You have to qualify for a court appointed attorney by meeting the financial criteria. He will most likely not get the case dismissed on his own. He should hire an attorney especially since it is in federal court.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/28/2011
Law Office of Ernest T. Biando, LLC | Ernest Biando
No. It depends if you qualify i.e. financially. It would appear that he is not qualified and he needs to hire his own Attorney.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/12/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
The court will appoint an attorney if they find the person needing representation is indigent. This is normally done after an examination by the Court as to the finaicial ability of the person requesting court-appointd counsel. If denied court-appointed counsel a person should seek the services of retained counsel. One should not event consider representing themselves in a federal court when charged with a criminal offense.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/28/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
If he was denied a public defender it could be because he owns real property or has other assets. I cannot think of any other reason. HE will not be able to successfully represent himself in a federal criminal case. HE is facing a federal prosecutor. He needs to call our office and arrange for a consultation so we can help him.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/10/2011
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
He is Constitutionally entitled to be represented by counsel. It appears that the court believes that your father has sufficient funds to pay for his own defense. If not, try a re-application for court appointed counsel.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/10/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It is difficult to imagine him being denied a court appointed attorney given his financial situation. If I were he I would show up at the next court hearing and tell the judge in person that he does not have the money to hire an attorney and does not want to represent himself. Make it their problem not his.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Fabian & Associates, Inc.
    Fabian & Associates, Inc. | Stephen G. Fabian, Jr.
    No, only if you are indigent.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    You are entitled to court appointed attorney if you 1) meet financial eligibility requirements, and 2) the crime you are charged with may result in jail time of convicted. Often times people will not have enough to afford a top attorney but still not qualify for court appointed council. This is a tough situation. Most communities have Bar Associations that have reduced fee attorney's available for just this type of situation.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    Apparently he does not meet income guidelines for a Federal defender. He can always make a motion to dismiss the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Most likely the court determined that he is not indigent, and he can pay for his own defense. He should find a way to hire counsel. Stay well. If he is in South Alabama, he may contact me. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Appointing an attorney for free is clearly within the court's jurisdiction, and I am sure that the judge inquired as to the accused's financial status. Perhaps the accused posted bail, and I am sure there are lawyers who will work for the bond. He should not represent himself in any case where prison is possible, and I am sure that he will get representation eventually. Do not plead guilty at this point, but enter a plea of not guilty. Get the family involved, maybe together, all of you can pool your funds to get an attorney for him.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Thank you for your inquiry There is a two-step inquiry involved in appointing an attorney in a criminal case. First is the question of indigency. If a person is not able to afford an attorney, then one can be appointed at State expense. Then next question is whether there is a realistic risk of jail time. If so, then appointment of an attorney can be made. However, if the Judge limits himself/herself to not imposing jail time, then there is an argument that there is no right to an appointed attorney. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Court appointed attorneys are given to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. In determining whether a person can hire an attorney, the person's total income is looked at. Apparently the Court felt his pension gave him enough money to hire an attorney. Requests of a court to take cetain action during a case are made by motion. He would have to follow the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and any local rules when filing a motion and accompanying brief. It will be difficult for him to represent himself in federal court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Not if the Court deems him not to be indigent.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Greco Law Office
    Greco Law Office | Dominic Greco
    You have to show you are unable to pay for an attorney. If the court finds that you can afford to pay they can deny him a court appointed attorney. If he represents himself he has to talk to the Prosecutor about any plea deals or dismissals.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Wow. Denied a court appointed lawyer in federal court? He must have a very large pension or there was a mistake. He should make another request via a letter sent to the judge. If he is in custody, he should probably qualify unless he owns significant property. If he is on bond and has property, he is expected to sell it to raise the funds.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/10/2011
    bark & karpf
    bark & karpf | peter bark
    Usually anyone who meets the income and assets standard is entitled to a court appointed lawyer. Your father probably has either too much income or assets like a home or other property.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Everyone who can't afford an attorney is entitled to a court appointed lawyer. What kind of assets does he have? If he has savings that may be the reason why they did not appoint an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/8/2011
    Iyer Law Office
    Iyer Law Office | V. Iyer
    Generally, you must be indigent to qualify for a state (public) appointed counsel where the State pays the attorney to represent a defendant. Indigency is a technical term and the Courts define it as someone whose gross (prior to deductions, expenses, and taxes) household income is below a certain threshold and is also based on the number of persons in the defendant's household. This threshold is very low. Only if you are in jail do you automatically qualify for state paid attorney to represent you while you are in jail. While in jail your income is not a criteria to get state paid attorney in a criminal case. Once you are out or released on any type of bail or bond then income and the number of members in the household becomes a criteria and you must qualify for state paid attorneys. The income threshold is not very high. Also, the income of the whole household is counted in order to ascertain whether or not a defendant qualifies for state paid attorneys. He will have a much better chance in getting the case dismissed if he has a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney. He can respectfully request the Court to explain to him why he is not qualified for a state paid attorney. It is the amount of income which matters not the source of income. Except for persons in jail or custody not everyone is automatically granted state paid attorney. You must qualify for one which is based on the amount of income and the members in his or her household.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/8/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, if you can't afford an attorney you can get the Public Defender. If you make too much money for the PD, there are often near-indigent panels that provide low cost attorneys. If he represents himself, the court will advise him carefully at each step. He can ask that the case be dismissed as much as he likes but there is little chance that will happen absent a very good reason.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/8/2011
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    Public Defenders are based on income and you must qualify to have a public defender appointed. He should seek private representation.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/8/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    The court will appoint counsel. He should not represent himself. He can always ask that the case be dismissed, but without a reason the court will refuse.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    He can't. Without an attorney, he has zero chance. And no, not everyone is entitled to a public defender. He better start shopping for a private attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We strongly recommend that, if he does not qualify for appointed counsel, that you and your family should try to pool together your resources to retain an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Federal guidelines would permit a federal public defender if the defendant meets the indigent status. If the court deems he has enough income to provide his own attorney, then he would not be entitled to a court appointed attorney. He just makes an oral motion to dismiss.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    Court appointed attorneys are for those whose crimes and finances qualify them. Resources for these programs are very limited and suffer from frequent budget cuts despite the fact that they provide a vital service to a needy population and are staffed by some very talented attorneys. It is unwise to represent oneself in any case, particularly criminal where the prosecutor holds all of the cards. Contact the National Lawyers Guild or a local Bar association for a referral to a criminal defense attorney who can provide affordable representation.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You get an appointed attorney if you cannot afford one. Sounds like your dad didn't qualify for court appointed so you need to hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    The Federal Public Defenders Office only represents those people who meet the income requirements. I suggest you visit their website to find out what those guidelines are. It is possible that someone can be receiving benefits and still make too much money. That's why you should check with the Federal Public Defender's Office. As far as court hearings go, your father needs to file a motion and some kind of scheduling document with the court and send a copy to the prosecutor's office. If he represents himself, the court clerk may be able to supply those forms. They may also be found on line.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    No. Whether a person qualifies for a public defender is determined by whether or not the defendant is indigent (has an income, or lack of savings and assets that puts the defendant at or below the poverty level). The court determines this. I always tell my clients to plead "not guilty" so that you can see what evidence the State or federal government has. You can ask for a dismissal, but that in and of itself will not suffice. You need to have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Each person would be entitled to the appointment of a Federal Public Defender.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You must be eligible to have an attorney appointed in federal court. They have their own methods of determining who is eligible based on their income and property that they ow. Federal public defenders are much better than Legal Aid in state and city courts and are very experienced in federal law which is a specialty that most criminal lawyers are not well versed in. If he was not eligible then he must call 10 or more lawyers who specialize in federal court cases and choose the best one he can afford. He cannot defend himself, that would be like performing his own heart surgery.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/7/2011
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