One of the foundational principles of our nation’s criminal justice system is the idea that everyone is “innocent until proven guilty.” Our government wants to help ensure that everyone accused of a crime has a fair chance to defend themselves in court. The Constitution guarantees every criminal defendant the right to a lawyer, free of charge, if they cannot afford one themselves. Thus, if you stand accused of a crime but cannot afford a criminal charges defense lawyer, you have a legal right to one. Most people know of this right, but many have little or no practical experience in how this right works in practice. If you are curious about obtaining a public defender in Illinois, then you are in the right place. Read on for more information from the defense team at The Jordan Law Firm.
What Are the Steps for Obtaining a Public Defender in Illinois?
In order to enjoy your right to an Illinois public defender, you have to invoke the right. After the police detain you, you can invoke your right to a public defender immediately. Sometimes, however, the state or county will not appoint a public defender to your case until you invoke the right in front of a judge. To speak with a public defender before appearing in front of a judge, you can call the Cook County Office of the Public Defender at 844 817 4448 at any time of day. If you are outside of Cook County and call this public defender’s office, they will forward you to the proper public defender office for your jurisdiction.
At an arraignment or other pre-trial hearing, a judge should ask if you have legal counsel. If your answer is no, they should ask if you want to invoke your right to counsel. You should, if necessary, say yes. If a judge does not ask you about this specifically, you should speak up. At your hearing, as soon as you get an opening to speak you can say that you intend to invoke your right to a public defender. It is important that you do this during your first appearance before a judge. Failing to do so can hurt your case’s chances of success.
Demonstrating Financial Necessity
Not everyone has the right to a public defender. In fact, only individuals who cannot afford to hire their own legal defense have the guaranteed right to a public defender. To determine your financial need, courts will often require you to fill out a form that details all of your assets. If the courts determine that you can afford your own defense attorney, they will deny your request. However, if you can demonstrate your financial need they must appoint a public defender to your case.
Can I Pick My Own Public Defender?
Unfortunately, you cannot pick your own public defender. This can present a problem for some. Not every lawyer is the right lawyer for every client. Furthermore, not every criminal charges defense attorney is skilled in every area of criminal law. If your case requires a lawyer with specific experience, the courts will do their best to ensure that your public defender has that experience. However, some people end up unlucky. They may disagree with their lawyer’s legal strategy, not get along with them, or simply not trust them. This situation is often detrimental to accused individuals, which is an unfortunate side effect of our criminal justice system.
Call The Jordan Law Firm for All of Your Criminal Defense Needs
If you intend to invoke your right to a public defender, you should do so as soon as possible. However, if you would like to consult with a private defense lawyer before or after you have a public defender, you can always call us at The Jordan Law Firm for a free consultation. No matter what crime you stand accused of, the defense team at The Jordan Law Firm can help you protect your freedom and your constitutional rights. Whatever way you look at it, you need a defense lawyer if the state charges you with a crime. Anisa Jordan, our founding attorney, has years of experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal charges defense attorney. She has seen just about everything that goes on in our criminal justice system from multiple angles. Our firm’s tireless advocacy has helped countless individuals protect their freedom, so let us help you protect yours. Contact us today for your free consultation!