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Can I use a court-appointed lawyer or public defender?

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that a criminal defendant has the right to be represented by counsel, even if they are unable to afford one. In Michigan, the county government pays these court-appointed attorneys. However, a court-appointed lawyer does not necessarily mean a free lawyer. The court may order the defendant to reimburse them for their lawyer’s fees. Further, it is up to the court to assign your lawyer, meaning you will not be able to choose the lawyer yourself.

And that’s just the beginning of the problem. Court-appointed attorneys receive very little money for taking theses cases, and may be working on hundreds of cases at a time. What does that mean for you? In most cases, the court-appointed attorney doesn’t have the time, resources, or incentive to effectively fight your case, even if they have the best intentions. Time and time again, we see clients who were pushed by their court-appointed lawyer to plead guilty on the first court date, presumably because the lawyer wanted to get the case over with quickly. While this doesn’t happen in every situation, do you really want to leave the fate of your future in the hands of an attorney you don’t even choose?

 

See other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a criminal and civil case?
Can I sue the police?
What will be on my criminal record?
What will happen at my first court date?
How should I prepare for my first meeting with a lawyer?
How much does a lawyer cost?
Can I use a court-appointed lawyer or public defender?
When should I hire an attorney?
How do I choose an attorney?