The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to an attorney – and if you can’t afford one, the court will appoint one for you. The attorney the court appoints is called a public defender.
What is a Public Defender?
A public defender is a lawyer who attended school and passed the Bar exam. The main difference between a public defender and a lawyer who’s in private practice (like the criminal defense attorneys at Gamino Law Offices, LLC) is that public defenders are employed by the government to represent people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer in a private practice.
Milwaukee has several public defenders, but in many cases, there are far more defendants – people accused of crimes – than there are defenders. That means public defenders have heavy caseloads; they’re representing many people at the same time. As a result, they get less one-on-one time with their clients and often have fewer resources than lawyers in private practices do. In some cases, public defenders only meet their clients a day or two before trial, so they have less time to put together legal strategies.
Who Qualifies for a Public Defender’s Representation?
People who are facing a criminal charge that could result in incarceration – jail time or prison time – and who can’t afford an attorney might qualify for help from a public defender. You have to meet certain low-income criteria, though, and you might have to show financial documents to the court to prove that you don’t have the money to hire a private attorney. Usually, your eligibility is based on your income and expenses. You must tell the judge in your case that you’d like to work with a public defender in order for the court to be able to appoint one for you.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer?
If you’ve been arrested and charged with any type of crime, we may be able to help you. We are not public defenders – we’re private lawyers who don’t work for the government. Call us at 414-383-6700 for a free case review now.