If asked to recite your Miranda warnings, you’d probably be able to do so just from watching TV and movies. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, one will be provided to you.
One of the most important parts of your Miranda warnings is the notification that you have a right to legal counsel and if you can’t afford a lawyer, the court will provide one to you.
If you have been arrested and are facing interrogation by police, it’s important you understand what this right really means. Read on to learn what you need to know.
The Right to Legal Counsel
The right to legal counsel is given to us in the 6th Amendment. Although the framers of the Constitution gave all Americans that right when the drafted the Bill of Rights, they didn’t specify much more than that.
This leaves many questions about legal counsel, like who pays for it if the defendant can’t afford it? This situation is highly likely, as most people arrested for crimes in the US are low income.
Other questions raised by the right to counsel center on which cases defendants have the right to an attorney. Does this apply to all cases? Even something as small as a traffic offense?
These are all questions that were left unanswered by the framers and left up to the Supreme Court to decide.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
The right to counsel is immediate upon arrest. Once you are arrested, law enforcement officers cannot question you without reading you your Miranda rights. You have the right to refuse to answer any of their questions until you have a lawyer present.
If you request one, officers are supposed to stop questioning you and wait until your attorney is present. You also may want an attorney to argue for you during the bail hearing.
Whether the case is minor or a serious felony, you have the right to have an attorney present at every step of the way, even if it’s as minor as a traffic offense. Of course, you can always choose to answer questions without an attorney (although it’s not recommended) or you can choose to represent yourself, called a pro se defense.
If You Can’t Afford a Lawyer
What if you can’t afford a lawyer to represent you during the criminal justice process? According to the Supreme Court in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the courts must appoint an attorney to any indigent defendant facing a felony charge. A few years later, the case of Argersinger v. Hamlin held that indigent defendants charged with a misdemeanor that could result in jail time are entitled to an attorney as well.
An indigent defendant is someone who is arrested or charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney without suffering “undue hardship.” Most states will consider your income and resources to determine if you meet the criteria of being indigent. If you are declared indigent, you may be represented by appointed counsel or a public defender.
Fight For Your Rights
Your right to legal counsel is firmly established in the Bill of Rights. Make sure you fight for that right.
If you’re arrested, you’ll need to get a lawyer, but you also may need a bail bondsman if you are awarded bail and can’t afford it. If you are arrested in Durham County or Orange County and can’t afford your bond, contact us.
We can provide the cash for your release.