One of the foundational tenets of the U.S. criminal justice system is the right to be represented by an attorney in defending against criminal accusations—whether or not you can afford to hire an attorney. For this assignment, you will research legal services available to indigent individuals. You will then work with a partner to compare the roles of public defenders and private attorneys in representing indigent clients.
Reggie was down on his luck. He was out of a job and had no money, and, on his way home from a friend’s house at 2 a.m., his car ran out of gas on a residential street. Prompted by a call from a concerned neighbor, police questioned Reggie and found evidence of marijuana in his car. He couldn’t afford an attorney, so the court appointed one to represent him.
Instructions Review the scenario. Call a local private practice criminal defense law firm and ask a member of the staff to describe the types of services that its attorneys could provide to someone in Reggie’s position. (You may also find the same information online through a defense attorney’s website.)Search online to research indigent defense services that are available in your county. Search online for services provided by a public defender, either in your county or in another area if your county does not provide public defense. In a new Microsoft Word document, cite the sources for your research and answer the following questions:
1. What types of indigent defense services are available in your area?
2. Based on your research, what role do public defenders play defending indigent clients in your area? How are the poor represented in criminal matters in your area?
3. What role do private attorneys play in representing indigent clients?
4. How does the role of a public defender compare to the role of a private attorney representing indigent clients in your area?
5. Are defendants at a disadvantage if they are represented by a public defender versus a private defense attorney? Why or why not?
6. If you had a friend with few financial resources who was charged with a crime, what would you recommend they do to find legal representation?
I live in Callahan, Florida which is Nassau County, but Jacksonville is very close to me which is Duval County so it may be easier to use Duval. However that is completely up to the writer and what works best for them.