Asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Criminal Law for Oklahoma

Q: What can I do if a judge threatens to jail me for not hiring counsel? Denying me the right to a public defender.

I'm homeless with no job. Been trying hard to find a job.

1 Lawyer Answer
Tracy Tiernan
Tracy Tiernan
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Licensed in Oklahoma

A: This is an incredibly common phenomenon in the criminal court system in Oklahoma and elsewhere. You bonded out …..somehow. It may not have come out of your pocket but it came out of someone’s pocket …your family, or a friend, or an acquaintance that was trying to help you. Now the judge is demanding that you also use that resource to pay for a private attorney. Why? Because the public defenders office is so overworked and their daily dockets are so crowded that they simply don’t have time for the additional caseload of people who have bonded out of custody, however they accomplished it. When you say the judge is denying you the right to a public defender, that’s actually not correct. You WILL get a public defender, it will NOT be denied. You’ll just have to go back into custody where the rest of the unfortunate souls who don’t have resources to bond out reside awaiting the disposition of their cases. You need to reach back out to whoever helped you, along with any other family, friends, employers, everyone, anyone to see if they can help you retain a private attorney. Best of luck!

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