Your Right to an Attorney
Facing felony charges? You have the right to an Illinois criminal defense attorney.
Anyone accused of a state or federal felony has the right to legal counsel. This is guaranteed through the 6th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Dealing with the criminal justice system can be an extremely complex and overwhelming experience. To help you achieve the best outcome, speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Donahue, Sowa & Magana today at 630-232-1780 or contact us online.
Your Rights as a Defendant
Federal law states that you have the right to an attorney as soon as you have been charged with a crime. Your right continues through the preliminary hearing. However, this right does not apply to civil, administrative or license suspension hearings.
Although you retain the right to an attorney if charged with a crime, this right does not apply if you are only a suspect during the investigation process, or if you've been arrested but not yet charged. However, you may hire an attorney at any point.
The state has an obligation to ensure that your right to counsel is upheld and does not infringe on your ability to consult with a criminal defense attorney.
Your Right to Appointed Counsel
Defendants who are considered "indigent" (unable to hire an attorney) have the right to an attorney provided by the court at no charge. This is determined based on the defendant's income, assets, debt and overall financial situation. Simply put, you may not automatically qualify for a court-appointed free legal counsel just because you think you cannot afford to hire one yourself.
If you are offered a court-appointed attorney, you cannot choose which lawyer you receive. Your case will be referred to whichever public defender is available and you may only use that particular attorney through to the trial and first appeal.
Waiving Your Right to Counsel
You have the choice to waive your right to an attorney and to represent yourself in court. To do so, you must first convince the judge that you are competent and aware of the consequences that come with self-representation.
Representing yourself is not recommended. Professional criminal defense lawyers have the experience needed to know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. You need to know how to properly exercise your rights, protections and court procedures to your advantage, especially when you face the potential for serious punishment.
To help you achieve the best possible outcome, it is important that you begin preparation for your case as soon as possible.