What can we do if my husband needs an attorney but the public defender’s office has rejected him?

UPDATED: Mar 7, 2012

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What can we do if my husband needs an attorney but the public defender’s office has rejected him?

His mom paid the initial fee’s for a private attorney without finding out first how much it would cost later and if he was even qualified. She only had the money for that because her husband passed away earlier in the year but now she’s back to living on her regular income. Neither of us are working as he’s incarcerated and I’m a student so we absolutely don’t have the funds to pay for an attorney now, but the public defenders office things that because he came up with in the first place that we can afford it now. What should we do?

Asked on March 7, 2012 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Most public defender's office base their representation not on what the family can come up with financially, but with the actual income of the defendant is. If the defendant's current income exceeds certain state or public defender guidelines, then the public defender generally cannot take on the case. If your husband is currently not working or incarcerated, then sometimes the public defender office are able to assist. My advice is to contact the court. Sometimes the court is able to appoint your husband an attorney if he absolutely cannot afford retained counsel, including appointing the public defenders office to prevent your husband from representing himself. Contact the court.

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