What If I Cannot Afford An Attorney?

There are many situations in which having legal counsel is beneficial; however, robbing Peter to pay your attorney…probably not a good idea, besides, you may not have to cover the legal fees yourself, depending on your financial circumstances. In a Criminal Case The Sixth Amendment gives you the Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal defense.  Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee. In a Civil Case That Constitutional right to an attorney does not extend to civil matters (such as divorce, landlord-tenant dispute, or foreclosure defense).  We are fortunate in our area to have St. Johns County Legal Aid, a local non-profit agency that primarily serves the most vulnerable demographic of our population, aiding awareness of legal rights and options in matters of debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, family law, and many other civil subjects.  Their motto is “A Wealth of Justice for Those Who Have Neither,” and they mean it. If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, they have a lot of […] Read More

Legal Aid Not the Same As Public Defender

The Sixth Amendment gives you the Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal defense.  Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee.  This does not apply in a civil matter (such as divorce, landlord-tenant dispute, or foreclosure defense); that is where Legal Aid plays a vital role in providing legal services for civil cases involving the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. Legal Aid is not the same as a Public Defender.  You will not be assigned an attorney if you cannot afford one for a case where your lender is suing to foreclose on your home. St. Johns County Legal Aid is a local non-profit agency that primarily serves the most vulnerable demographic of our population, aiding awareness of legal rights and options in matters of debt, foreclosure, housing, elder law, family law, and many other civil subjects.  Their motto is “A Wealth of Justice for Those Who Have Neither,” and they mean it. If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, they have a […] Read More

The Judge is the Judge

Have you seen the video of the Brevard County Judge and the Public Defender who get into a fight?  The Public Defender is trying to assert his client’s right to a speedy trial.  The Judge tries to get the Public Defender to stand down, then the Judge says, “If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ***.”  They both leave the courtroom and noises of a scuffle ensue off-camera.  A few moments later, the Judge comes back to his bench and people clap. The Judge is the Judge, but the problem with this situation is that the behavior is not really judgely and it is not really lawyerly.  While the courtroom camera footage displays “normal” throughout the scene, that might not be the kind of “normal” legal professionals and the public expect.  The Judge is already on paid leave and signed up for anger management, and I am sure he will be retiring quickly. You can view the courtroom footage on First Coast News at http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/local/florida/2014/06/02/judge-accused-of-punching-attorney/9889713/.   Read More

The Three D’s & Our Public Defenders

Attorneys deal in the three D’s—Debt, Death, and Divorce.  Generally those are not happy circumstances and so lawyers enjoy such titles as “weasel” or “shark” or “blood sucking attorney.”  Those terms can make for humorous attorney jokes, and sometimes we deserve some of that reputation.  However, when you are in trouble, whether it is civil or criminal, you want the best weasel or shark or blood sucking attorney you can find to obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.  Our Public Defenders are not the least of these. Legal Counsel is so necessary in a criminal case that if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the State provides counsel without fee.  Contrary to what some people believe, attorneys working in the Public Defenders office are not attorneys who received bad grades in law school or could not find jobs elsewhere.  They are some of the best public servants we have.  They cannot pick and chose their cases.  They take all qualified applicants regardless of the charge or defendant.  They are also in Court working criminal cases with the State Attorney’s office almost every day.   Read More