Working with a Court-Appointed Criminal Appeals Lawyer
The United States Constitution guarantees that you get the right to legal counsel. At times, hiring a criminal appeals lawyer may be out of your reach. When this happens, you can ask the judge to assign you a court-appointed attorney. This is done at little or no cost to you.
Getting a court-appointed criminal appeals lawyer does not mean it is the end of your world. This is a lawyer like any other with the only difference being he is not in the private field. This attorney will work to protect your legal rights through the entire course of your case. Just like with the other lawyers, you need to interact with the appointed attorney. He has sworn an oath not to leak your secrets.
If you don’t want a court-appointed criminal appeals lawyer, the court cannot force one to you. To get legal representation, you must ask the judge for one and you must also meet certain criteria. The main requirement for you to get a public defender is to be accused of a crime that is serious enough to end you in jail if found guilty. You must also be able to show that you don’t have the money to hire a criminal appeals lawyer on your own. When requesting legal representation, the court will ask about your family obligations, income and expenses among other things.
The court-appointed attorney is simply a public defender who is a law school graduate and licensed to practice law in your appropriate court system and area. The public defenders work full time for the state or county government. If there is a chance the office of public defenders cannot take your case, the judge will assign you a private lawyer from the local area.
What does this lawyer do?
The primary role of the court-appointed criminal appeals lawyer is to protect your rights during line-ups, questioning, hearings and meetings. If your case makes it to trial, this lawyer will file all the necessary documents, interview the witnesses, investigate the facts as well as prepare for trial. Generally speaking, this lawyer does everything a private lawyer does. When offered any plea deal, he will advise you but you will be left to make the final decision.
Working with the court-appointed attorney
You can help your court-appointed criminal appeals lawyer in many ways. You need to be in touch at all times and provide him or her with the list of all the witnesses as well as their contact information. Ask the lawyer as many questions as you can about the case and give him all the information he needs. All in all, though your conversation with the attorney is confidential, there are certain information that he is legally required to reveal.
Last but not least, if you feel the criminal appeals lawyer you are working with is not competent enough, you can ask the judge for a different lawyer. The decision of the judge will be dependent on your reason for requesting an attorney change as well as the timing of your request.