What are my rights to representation for my criminal case? As a criminal defendant, you have certain rights meant to protect you against the weight of the government. In fact, the Founding Fathers thought these rights to be so important, they spelled out several of these rights in the Bill of Rights. It’s strange, of course, that despite the fact our Founding Fathers held these rights so dear, but somehow the law enforcement, government officials, and the media seem to consider these are inconveniences and protections only for the guilty. But we digress…
In this video, Suffolk lawyer Andrew Page explains your rights to representation in your criminal case. The V and VI Amendments provide constitutional rights regarding your right to an attorney. If you hae been charged with a criminal case, you essentially have three options. First, you can waive your right to an attorney. In fact, in some courtrooms, certain judges “advise,” or have their bailiff’s advise, that in certain cases (misdemeanors mostly), a majority of people waive their rights to counsel. Of course, they neglect to tell you that in the majority of cases where counsel is waived results in convictions. And once you have a conviction in Virginia, you cannot have it expunged from your record unless you receive a pardon from the governor. And unless you have a rich uncle donating lots of money to the governor’s political campaign, don’t get your hopes up. Your right to an attorney should not be waived without strong consideration.
Second, you may have the right to a court-appointed lawyer. This part is also part of the famous Miranda warnings – “you have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” Now the key to this option is your financial capability. In order to qualify for a court-appointed lawyer, you have to complete an affidavit in court as to your income, property holdings, and various other issues affecting your finances. If you are below a certain threshold, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you. Just because you don’t want to pay a lawyer, doesn’t mean you qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. If you have the money, the Commonwealth is not going to pay it for you.
Third, you have the right to counsel of your choosing. Obviously, this is a lawyer you pay to represent you. If through the course of your relationship, you decide you want to change lawyers, you have the right to do so. The new attorney would need to appear before the court, or enter into a consent order, substituting in as new counsel.
If you have any questions regarding your right to counsel or need representation, you can reach Drew out our Suffolk Office at (757) 935-9065 or visit our website at www.randallpagelaw.com.