What Are My Rights in a Los Angeles Misdemeanor Criminal Case? (PART 2)

When a person has been arrested for a criminal charge, they have yet to be convicted. In order for a person to be convicted, they must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal court. Each person facing charges is protected by the United States Constitution, and their rights will be taken very seriously by the court. One of the most important rights a person has is the Right to an Attorney.

Right to an Attorney

You have a right to the assistance of an attorney at any point in the proceedings. If you indicate to the court that you wish to hire an attorney, the court must give you a reasonable period of time to do so. Due to the nature of the proceedings, the Constitution gives each person the right to have competent, legal representation during their criminal case.

Right to Continuance and Delay

The very first appearance you make before the Judge is called the Arraignment. You may not have an attorney at that point in the case, but may be contemplating on seeking the assistance of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney. If you go before the Judge, and you want to hire someone to represent you, let the Judge know. The Judge will always give you a continuance as you have a right to one. You do not have to enter any plea, or state anything on the record or to the Judge, other than that you want to hire an attorney.

Right to a Public Defender

In many cases, a person will not have the funds necessary to hire an attorney to represent them. Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys are often expensive due to the extensive amount of time they spend on each client and their legal knowledge. However, the fact that a person cannot afford a private criminal defense attorney does not mean that they may be denied their right to counsel.

If you feel that you may not be able to afford a criminal defense attorney, then let the court know. Based on your financial status, the Court will appoint a public defender to help represent you. The Court will order you to pay a public defender based on your financial status. If you feel that you need to present your case to the Judge in regards to you financial status, the Court will schedule a hearing so that you have the opportunity to do so.

Public defenders
are experienced and knowledgeable attorneys, however, they have an extensive caseload. They see a significant number of cases in the courtroom everyday and do not always have a lengthy period of time to dedicate to one single client.

Right to Represent Self

In a criminal matter, you always have the right to represent yourself if you do not wish to hire a private defense attorney, or if you do not want a public defender to represent you. However, it is important to know that the criminal justice system is not a simple process. It is a complicated one with many protections and serious consequences. A simple investment on an attorney now may save you extensive trouble in the future.