General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Can a municipal court judge deny an indigent defendent a court-appointed attorney? And if the judge does, what can be done about it?

Asked by Yellowdog (8217points) 1 month ago

The accused is charged with criminal trespass, a Class C Misdemeanor.

When appearing before the judge, the accused/defendant requests an attorney.

The judge denies it.

Is this even legal? That’s why I ask.

Additionally, if not legal protocol, what can be done about it if the defendant cannot afford an attorney to rectify this?

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4 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

If the infraction is not one that results in jail time, then there is no right to counsel. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the constitutional right to counsel applies only if imprisonment is actually imposed.

You don’t get an attorney for traffic violations or littering. Class C criminal trespass is something like hanging out in a parking lot.

Yellowdog's avatar

Thanks for the excellent and timely answer.

But, what if the charge is bogus? And, what if a judge denied a court appointed attorney in a more serious charge than a class-C misdemeanor?

I know this is now hypothetical. But I’d still like to know what could be done.

Sagacious's avatar

If the defendant could receive a sentence of imprisonment he must be provided legal counsel if he meets the low-income criteria.

Yellowdog's avatar

Thanks—I don;t know how you dredged this question up after all this time, but that’s what I have been told since then—only if facing jail time is a court-appointed attorney granted.

The question says it was a month ago when asked, but actually this was December, 2017. The second court appearance was in January, 2018. The defendant just pled guilty and paid a fine.

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