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assigned counsel

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assigned counsel , a lawyer or lawyers appointed by the state to provide representation for indigent persons. Assigned counsel generally are private lawyers designated by the courts to handle particular cases; in some countries, particularly the United States, public defenders permanently employed by the government perform this function.

The right to counsel varies considerably from country to country. Until the late 19th century, access to counsel was almost entirely predicated upon an individual’s ability to pay. If a person could afford a lawyer, he was entitled to one; if he was poor, he usually went unrepresented, except at times in capital cases. In the late 19th century, bar organizations and social-welfare groups banded together to supply legal aid to the indigent. By the mid-20th century, the governments of most European countries were participating in these programs in some fashion, in either their administration or funding or in both.

Most countries have recognized the right of the indigent to have counsel in criminal cases, particularly for the most serious types of offenses. Although Great Britain provided legal aid earlier (1949) than the United States, the United States was at the forefront in providing assigned counsel. Beginning in 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright , the United States Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that upheld the rights of indigent persons accused of felonies to have counsel during trial and appeal and even during police interrogation. Although this right was not extended to cover misdemeanours, some jurisdictions and many public defender offices give coverage in such cases. Owing to an increase in prisoners on death row and a diminished emphasis on pro bono work in law firms, at the beginning of the 21st century, many prisoners sentenced to death in the United States lacked lawyers during the appeals process. For example, it was estimated that two-fifths of death-row inmates in Alabama were without counsel as statutory deadlines for filing appeals approached.

In civil-law countries and in England, the provision of assigned counsel has been more limited. For example, in France anyone accused of a crime beyond a minor misdemeanour must have counsel at the preliminary hearing and the trial, but this right has not been extended to cover police interrogation. Japan requires counsel only for cases in which punishment may exceed a three-year prison term. In Russia there must be a defense counsel in any case in which a public prosecutor participates or any case in which the accused is incapable of handling his defense.

Many countries do not remunerate lawyers assigned to defend the poor in criminal cases. In the United States the compensation is often considerably lower than what the attorney could receive from a private client. In consequence, although many public defenders and assigned attorneys are capable lawyers, they are often young and lacking in experience. In England, where the majority of lawyers volunteer to take cases involving indigent defendants, an accused person has a somewhat better chance of obtaining experienced counsel in a criminal proceeding.

In civil cases there is an even greater disparity between countries as far as rights to counsel and the resultant quality of counsel are concerned. In England state aid has been granted in divorce and certain kinds of litigation since 1949. Not until 1966 did the United States begin to deal with the problem of civil litigation, and then it did so only in a limited fashion. The poor were given the right to sue for divorce without paying filing fees and court costs; the right to counsel in such cases was also indicated. Although rights were not originally extended to other areas of civil litigation, legal aid is now provided for some eviction and bankruptcy cases.

In civil-law countries (e.g., France and Italy) the system of providing counsel for the indigent in civil cases is usually well organized but tends to employ young, inexperienced lawyers who usually serve without pay. In Germany , where the Federal Constitutional Court has upheld the right of the poor to counsel in civil actions, the compensation is adequate to be attractive to experienced attorneys. Lawyers are appointed by the court and paid by the government.


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Assigned Counsel definition

Examples of assigned counsel in a sentence.

Assigned Counsel will have a direct right of appeal when his or her fees have been reduced on an Assessment.

Where Assigned Counsel ’s fees have been reduced on any Assessment by us, Paragraphs8.15 to 8.29 above will apply to any appeal by Assigned Counsel .

Paragraphs8.15 to 8.29 will apply to such an appeal by Assigned Counsel .

Where a Representation Order includes instruction of Assigned Counsel and an in-house solicitor advocate is instructed they may claim advocacy and preparation costs at the rates set out in the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013.

Other categories include Homestead & Rollbacks, Intergovernmental Revenues, State Assigned Counsel and Public Defender reimbursement from the State of Ohio.

You must provide Assigned Counsel with details of the UFN which must be inserted on Counsel’s Claim.

Where an individual is entitled to Counsel (as may be determined by the court) in accordance with regulation 16 and 17 of The Criminal Legal Aid (Determinations by a Court and Choice of Representative) Regulations 2013, Assigned Counsel must be paid directly by us in accordance with the rates set out in the Criminal Remuneration Regulations and must complete a separate Claim form.

Slobodan Milošević, Case No. IT-02-54-T, Decision on Assigned Counsel Application for Interview and Testimony of Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, 9 December 2005 (“Milošević Decision”), para.

Assignments of counsel for indigent defendants, not represented by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender, shall be made by the Judge assigned to the Arraignment Room and appointments of counsel for defendants, not represented by the Cuyahoga County Public Defender will be distributed as widely as possible among the attorneys on the Court Assigned Counsel List designed to pair the defendant’s level of offense with any attorney who meets the qualifications for assignment.

Included in this Handbook are statutory provisions, court rules, guidelines and forms for Attorneys for the Child and Assigned Counsel Plan attorneys in the Family Courts of New York and Bronx Counties.

More Definitions of Assigned Counsel

Related to assigned counsel.

Counsel means a barrister and/or solicitor or a firm of barristers and/or solicitors retained by the Warrant Agent or retained by the Corporation, which may or may not be counsel for the Corporation;

Bond Counsel means an attorney or firm of attorneys of nationally recognized standing on the subject of municipal bonds satisfactory to the Director.

Qualified professional means a person with experience and training in the pertinent discipline, and who is a qualified expert with expertise appropriate for the relevant critical area or shoreline subject. A qualified professional must have obtained a B.S., B.A. or equivalent degree or certification in biology, engineering, environmental studies, fisheries, geomorphology, landscape architecture, forestry or related field, and two years of related work experience.

Company Counsel means Sichenzia Xxxx Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx LLP, with offices located at 00 Xxxxxxxx, 00xx Xxxxx, Xxx Xxxx, XX 00000.

Independent Counsel as defined in Section 2 of this Agreement. In either event, Indemnitee or the Company, as the case may be, may, within ten (10) days after such written notice of selection shall have been received, deliver to the Company or to Indemnitee, as the case may be, a written objection to such selection; provided, however, that such objection may be asserted only on the ground that the Independent Counsel so selected does not meet the requirements of “Independent Counsel” as defined in Section 2 of this Agreement, and the objection shall set forth with particularity the factual basis of such assertion. Absent a proper and timely objection, the person so selected shall act as Independent Counsel. If such written objection is so made and substantiated, the Independent Counsel so selected may not serve as Independent Counsel unless and until such objection is withdrawn or a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that such objection is without merit. If, within twenty (20) days after submission by Indemnitee of a written request for indemnification pursuant to Section 11(b) hereof, no Independent Counsel shall have been selected and not objected to, either the Company or Indemnitee may petition the Delaware Court for resolution of any objection which shall have been made by the Company or Indemnitee to the other’s selection of Independent Counsel and/or for the appointment as Independent Counsel of a person selected by the Delaware Court, and the person with respect to whom all objections are so resolved or the person so appointed shall act as Independent Counsel under Section 12(a) hereof. Upon the due commencement of any judicial proceeding or arbitration pursuant to Section 14(a) of this Agreement, Independent Counsel shall be discharged and relieved of any further responsibility in such capacity (subject to the applicable standards of professional conduct then prevailing).


United States District Court

District of kansas, chief judge eric f. melgren | clerk of court skyler b. o'hara, search form.

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Court Appointed Counsel in Civil Actions

The District of Kansas Local Rule 83.5.3 (f) addresses procedures to be followed by court-appointed counsel who represent indigent parties in civil cases. Counsel must follow these procedures if they wish to seek reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenditures which counsel are reasonably compelled to incur, which the client is not able to pay, and which are not otherwise recoverable in the action (including settlement). 

To qualify for reimbursement, all expenditures must be approved in advance by the court. 

To seek advance approval for expenses  

After the case is closed  

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NLADA - National Legal Aid and Defender Association

Standards for the Administration of Assigned Counsel Systems (1989)

You are here, introduction to the 1989 edition:.

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) is a private, nonprofit, national membership organization dedicated to the provision of quality legal services to poor people in both criminal and civil cases.

Since 1911, NLADA has worked to ensure that poor people have the same access to quality legal services as those who can afford to retain counsel, and since 1958 has specifically included poor persons accused of crime in that goal.  Yet, access to quality legal assistance is still denied to many persons in our criminal justice system.  While governments have a constitutional duty to provide counsel to poor persons charged with criminal offenses, the poor frequently receive inadequate representation from their government-supplied lawyers.  In other words, there are two systems of justice: one for the poor and one for those who can afford to hire counsel.

Assigned counsel – that is, private attorneys appointed in individual cases – is the primary method for delivery of defense services in about 50% of the counties in the United States.  Defense services are also provided through defender offices and contracts with law firms or private organizations.  While there are national standards governing the delivery of defense services by defender offices and contract systems, the only standards for assigned counsel systems are those contained in general defense services standards or employed in a few local jurisdictions.  In most assigned counsel jurisdictions, the absence of standards has resulted in an absence of structure, quality control, training and support services.  In fact, some assigned counsel “systems” amount to no more than an ad hoc assignment of attorneys by individual judges.

It is to remedy these deficiencies – and thereby improve the quality of representation provided by assigned counsel – that NLADA is promulgating these Standards.

These Standards represent what NLADA believes to be the ideal system for providing representation through assigned counsel.  While financial, administrative and other considerations may prevent some jurisdictions using assigned counsel from immediately achieving this ideal, the Standards provide a model for improving representation of those who cannot afford to retain private counsel, and a goal that assigned counsel systems should work to achieve.

The "black letter" text of these standards is available here for free. NLADA members have access to the full versions of standards, including commentary, related standards, and legal sources. Printed versions of standards are also available in our store.

View All   Commentary    Printed Standards

More Indigent Defense Standards

Section 1: Scope

Standard 1 Scope          

Section 2: Policies

Standard 2.1   Provision of Quality Representation

Standard 2.2   Independence from Judiciary and Funding Source

Standard 2.3   Financial Eligibility

Standard 2.4   Contribution and Recoupment

Standard 2.5   Early Representation

Standard 2.6   Duration and Continuity of Representation

Standard 2.7   Waiver Safeguards  

Standard 2.8   Standby Counsel

Standard 2.9   Standards for Performance of Counsel

Section 3: Structure

Standard 3.1 Establishment of Legal Representation Plan

Standard 3.1.A  Assigned Counsel in All Eligible Cases

Standard 3.1.B   Mixed Delivery System Including Assigned Counsel  

Standard 3.1.C  Assigned Counsel for Conflicts Only

Standard 3.2.1   Creation of Board

Standard 3.2.2   Functions of Board

Standard 3.3.1   Position of Administrator

Standard 3.3.2   Qualifications of Administrator

Standard 3.3.3   Employment Status and Pay of Administrator  

Standard 3.3.4   Functions of Administrator

Standard 3.4     Budget and Funding

Standard 3.5.1   Insurance for Board and Administrators

Standard 3.5.2   Insurance for Program Attorneys

Standard 3.6      Office Space, Equipment, Supplies 

Section 4: Responsibilities

Standard 4.1   Establishment and General Operation of Assigned Counsel Roster

Standard 4.1.1   Qualifications of Attorneys

Standard 4.1.2   Workloads of Attorneys

Standard 4.1.3   Publicizing the Program

Standard 4.2   Orientation  

Standard 4.3.1   Entry-Level Training

Standard 4.3.2   In-Service Training

Standard 4.4   Supervision of Attorneys  

Standard 4.4.1   Mentoring

Standard 4.4.2   Monitoring

Standard 4.5      Disciplinary Policies and Procedures

Standard 4.5.1   Penalties Less than Removal

Standard 4.5.2   Removal from Program Roster(s) 

Standard 4.5.3   Reinstatement After Removal  

Standard 4.6      Support Services

Standard 4.7.1   Assigned Counsel Fees  

Standard 4.7.2   Method of Compensation

Standard 4.7.3   Payment of Expenses

Standard 4.7.4   Only Authorized Compensation 

NLADA Mutual Insurance Co., RRG


Kansas’s System of Public Defense

The kansas state board of indigents’ defense provides defense counsel for people who are charged with felonies and cannot afford an attorney. we do so in one of two ways: our public defender system or our assigned counsel program..

The impact that our agency’s services have on Kansas’s criminal legal system is huge. On average, 85% of adults charged with felonies in Kansas qualify for our services. In fiscal year 2020, BIDS handled a grand total of 26,237 cases. Given these statistics, the relative health of the Kansas public defense system has a substantial impact on the ability of our criminal courts to function.

A strong public defense system not only protects our clients’ legal rights and satisfies the constitutional requirements of the Sixth Amendment, it also protects Kansas citizens’ liberties as a whole, increases the effectiveness of our court system, and is essential to maintaining the legitimacy of the entire judicial process.

Chart showing BIDS organizational structure

This organizational flow chart shows the structure of our public defense system. Budgeting and payment for the separate assigned counsel program is routed through the BIDS Administrative Office, but each assigned attorney is effectively an independent contractor with BIDS. Scroll down further to learn more about the public defender system and assigned counsel program.

assigned counsel criminal law

Our Public Defender System

BIDS administers 17 regional public defender offices. Those offices include eleven noncapital trial level regional defender offices, a trial-level capital defender office, a statewide appellate defender office, two capital appellate offices, and one capital habeas office.

Public defenders and public defense staff are state employees, working directly for BIDS and subject to BIDS internal oversight and quality control. When sufficiently staffed, public defender offices have traditionally been the most effective and fiscally efficient way to provide counsel to our clients. Public defender offices also have other advantages, such as the ability to accrue institutional knowledge and advocate collectively against injustice in our criminal legal system.

But there are not enough public defender offices to cover the needs of all poor Kansans who are accused of crimes. As a result, BIDS also administers an assigned private counsel program to fill in those gaps.

assigned counsel criminal law

Our Assigned Counsel Program

The assigned counsel program consists of two groups: contract counsel and non-contract counsel.

Contract counsel are typically private attorneys or firms that contract with BIDS to accept appointed cases at rates reduced from market value.

Non-contract counsel are private attorneys who meet established criteria and voluntarily serve on appointments panels in each judicial district. They are appointed to cases directly by district court judges who oversee the appointment panels in their respective jurisdiction. The statutory rate for these attorneys is currently $80 per hour, although they are being paid $120 an hour through the end of fiscal year 2023 based on a special budget priviso.

Assigned counsel are asked to serve where our public defenders are unable to handle a case due to conflicts of interest or caseload. They are also employed in judicial districts that do not have a public defender office. Because assigned counsel are private attorneys, their performance and caseloads are not directly supervised by BIDS, but the BIDS accounting department does audit and facilitate their payment.

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Working With Your Public Defender or Court-Appointed Attorney

The Sixth Amendment guarantees all defendants the right to the assistance of legal counsel in criminal cases. If a person cannot afford to hire an attorney, courts will appoint a lawyer at public expense, not only for felony cases but also for misdemeanors that can result in incarceration. This court-appointed attorney will usually be either a public defender or a panel attorney. Both have the same responsibilities—to zealously represent and defend their clients.

Court-Appointed Attorneys vs. Public Defenders: Are They the Same?

A public defender is simply one type of court-appointed counsel. The terms are used interchangeably a lot. (This article is no exception.) Both are fully licensed attorneys whose job is to represent criminal defendants. They are paid with public funds. The primary difference involves their working arrangements.

Appointments by the Court

Upon determining that a defendant is "indigent" (can't afford to hire legal counsel), the court must appoint one for the defendant. Defendants don't get to choose their appointed counsel. The court will typically appoint the local public defender ’s office or a local private attorney from an approved panel (sometimes called a court-appointed or panel attorney). The appointment varies depending on how the state or county provides indigent defense services.

Public Defenders Offices

If the court appoints the public defender’s office, that office will assign one of its attorneys to the case. Usually, the state runs and funds public defender offices throughout the state. Public defenders may work as full-time or part-time staff in their local office.

Panel Attorneys Assignments

If the court appoints a private attorney from its panel, it may assign a lawyer from a list of attorneys on duty that day for court appointments. These attorneys often have a private practice and apply to be a panel attorney who is paid on a case-by-case basis.

Are Public Defenders and Court-Appointed Attorneys Free?

It depends. Some jurisdictions try to recoup some of the public costs of court-appointed counsel by one or more of the following means:

These fees and costs are controversial, but many states still use them.

Are Court-Appointed Lawyers Good?

Yes. Court-appointed lawyers and public defenders are good at what they do, very good. Don’t assume that an appointed lawyer will be less capable than a private attorney you pay . Appointed counsel may perform as well as, or even better than, a private attorney for the following reasons.

Extensive Experience in Criminal Defense

Most public defenders are dedicated to criminal defense work and want to help their clients get the best result possible. Their offices may have investigators and researchers on staff—resources a private attorney may not have. Attorneys in a public defender’s office are often respected members of the criminal defense community with significant experience and skill.

Private attorneys who sit on an approved panel of criminal defense lawyers also have extensive experience. They must apply to the local court for membership on the panel and be approved by the judges. These attorneys typically have their own private practice with many clients who pay them for their services; as appointed counsel, they work for you for free (or close to free).

Ability to Ask for Investigative Funds

Appointed counsel have the ability to ask the court to pay for more than just their fees. If they believe that your defense requires an expert witness, like a fingerprint examiner or an accountant, they can apply to the court for funds to cover such expenses.

Frequently Appear in Court and Negotiate with Prosecutors

Public defenders and appointed private attorneys know the local judges and prosecutors. They've likely appeared before your judge and negotiated with your prosecutor on many prior occasions. This experience gives them insight that translates into good advice and proven strategies.

What Are the Responsibilities of Court-Appointed Attorneys?

Public defenders and panel attorneys have the same responsibilities and ethical duties as private criminal defense counsel. They must:

All criminal defense attorneys must provide effective legal representation for their paying and non-paying clients.

One of the biggest challenges for public defenders and court-appointed attorneys is their caseload—how many cases they are juggling at one time. Because having legal counsel in criminal cases is a constitutional right, public defenders typically can’t turn down cases. Given that you’re just one of many clients, here are some tips on working effectively with your lawyer.

How to Work Effectively With Your Court-Appointed Attorney

Let’s look at how to get this new relationship started on the right foot. What can you do to help your public defender or court-appointed attorney evaluate the case and come up with the best legal strategy? What questions should you ask? What actions should you avoid?

First Priority: Getting Out of Jail

Your lawyer’s first priority will be to work with you to figure out whether you can post bail. Don't expect too much else in this initial meeting. Your appointed counsel will need as much information as you can provide regarding anyone who might be able to post bail or sign a bond to secure your release. Also provide your attorney with any community connections you have, such as steady employment, family in the area, or enrollment in classes. Based on this information, your attorney may be able to argue for release on your own recognizance (which is free).

Next Up: Preparing the Case

Remember that public defenders have a lot more experience in court than you do. They've been trained to identify the key legal issues and the facts most likely to matter to a judge and a jury. You can help your attorney in many ways, but there are just as many ways to damage your own defense. Here are some “dos” and “don’ts.”

Do start with trust. Begin your relationship with an assumption of trust. Some clients believe that appointed lawyers cannot be trusted because they are paid with public funds. It’s a mistake to automatically suspect your public defender as someone not fully on your side. Public defenders are normally passionate about the cause of criminal justice and would never betray their ethical obligations to clients.

Do follow your lawyer’s lead. Start off by letting your lawyer ask the questions. Many lawyers will begin with the police report, going over it and asking you to comment. Few lawyers will ask you an open-ended “What happened?”—not because they don’t want to hear from you, but because they are focused on defeating the prosecution’s case. Keeping the discussion centered on what the prosecution knows (and thinks it can prove at trial) is an efficient way to begin to craft a defense.

Do ask questions. You can certainly ask your lawyer any questions you have. Your defense counsel is obliged to explain the strategy for your case, and you should not be afraid to ask about this, either. But don't be surprised if what your attorney sees as important to your defense is different from what you think.

Do answer truthfully. Answer your lawyer’s questions honestly. In order to come up with the best defense to the charges, your lawyer must understand what arguments might work and what facts make other arguments impossible. For example, if your lawyer asks you about witnesses to an incident and you omit the name of a friend who was there, that friend could either be your corroborating witness or the prosecutor’s best witness against you. In either case, your public defender needs to know about this person.

Do consider all the options. Your lawyer is duty-bound to present all the ways in which your case might be resolved. In many situations, a plea bargain to lesser charges is an appropriate option. And sometimes, the prosecution offers reduced charges in exchange for cooperating with law enforcement. Even though you may be firmly opposed to either avenue, don’t get angry if your public defender raises them. You have the absolute right to go to trial and require the government to prove its case, even if your lawyer thinks a plea bargain would give you a better result. Whether to go to trial is your decision alone.

Don't investigate. Don’t try to investigate the case on your own. Public defenders have experience preparing cases for trial and often have professional investigators on staff. These professionals know how to interview witnesses and can testify at trial if needed. You should not call or write to anyone about the case unless your lawyer gives you clear instructions to do so.

Don't interview witnesses. If you talk to anyone else about the facts of your case, that person could become a witness against you—making your lawyer’s job even tougher. In addition, you do not want an awkward conversation to be seen as witness tampering by the prosecution. It’s normally much better to let the public defender contact potential witnesses.

Do leave it to the pros. Think twice about conducting your own legal research. If you want to read cases or statutes to understand the case, feel free to do so. But leave the heavy legal lifting to your counsel.

Do I Have to Keep My Court-Appointed Lawyer?

At any point during your case, if you come up with the funds (perhaps from family or friends) to hire a lawyer of your choosing, you have a right to change lawyers. However, doing so close to trial comes at a risk. Even if your new lawyer asks for a delay in order to prepare, the court does not have to grant that request.

If you're unhappy with appointed counsel but don’t have the means to hire a private attorney, you can request a different attorney. But, in general, this option should be a last resort when you cannot resolve your disagreements. Learn more in Before You Fire Your Court-Appointed Lawyer or Public Defender .

If, on the other hand, a conflict of interest arises that could compromise your lawyer’s ability to represent you, your appointed counsel has a duty to present this conflict to the judge. For example, if the prosecutor includes a former client of your lawyer on its potential witness list, your lawyer would be caught between their duty of loyalty to the former client and their duty to zealously represent you, which could include cross-examining the former client. Your lawyer would have to explain this conflict to the judge. In these circumstances, courts readily give new counsel additional time to prepare your case.

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assigned counsel criminal law


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  1. Assigned counsel

    assigned counsel, a lawyer or lawyers appointed by the state to provide representation for indigent persons. Assigned counsel generally are private lawyers

  2. Providing Defense Services

    which applies in criminal proceedings. Kansas law has provided for the assignment of counsel to indigent defendants in felony cases since 1941 (K.S.A.

  3. What is the Assigned Counsel System?

    An assigned counsel is a private attorney who is appointed by a court to represent an indigent defendant. Being indigent means that he or she can't afford an

  4. Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases

    $ In State courts in the largest counties,. 3 in 4 defendants with either court- appointed or private counsel were convicted; in Federal courts 9 in 10 felony

  5. Assigned Counsel Definition

    Assigned Counsel means the attorney in the Office of General Counsel (including offices of Regional Counsel) assigned to provide legal review or assistance.

  6. Court Appointed Counsel in Civil Actions

    The District of Kansas Local Rule 83.5.3 (f) addresses procedures to be followed by court-appointed counsel who represent indigent parties in civil cases.

  7. Standards for the Administration of Assigned Counsel Systems (1989)

    Assigned counsel – that is, private attorneys appointed in individual cases – is the primary method for delivery of defense services in about 50% of the

  8. General 1

    Assigned counsel are asked to serve where our public defenders are unable to handle a case due to conflicts of interest or caseload. They are also employed in

  9. 2012 Statute

    It is the duty of an attorney appointed by the court to represent a defendant, without charge to such defendant, to inform the defendant fully of the crime

  10. Working With Your Public Defender or Court-Appointed Attorney

    The Sixth Amendment guarantees all defendants the right to the assistance of legal counsel in criminal cases. If a person cannot afford to hire