Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New Mexico

Q: I have a summons of court today and it is summons notice of trial on petition for right of restitution or forcible entry

Do I have right to public defender or what are my rights I'm asking for an extended 30 days to comply?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In a civil case like a petition for right of restitution or forcible entry, you generally do not have the right to a public defender. Public defenders are typically provided in criminal cases when a defendant cannot afford an attorney.

However, you still have rights and options:

1. You have the right to represent yourself (known as "pro se") in court.

2. You can request a continuance (postponement) of the trial date to give you more time to prepare or seek legal assistance. The court may grant a continuance at its discretion.

3. You can try to negotiate a settlement with the landlord or property owner before the trial date.

4. You may be able to find low-cost or free legal assistance through local legal aid organizations, tenant rights groups, or law school clinics in your area.

5. You have the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments on your behalf during the trial.

It's important to attend the trial or hearing as scheduled unless you have successfully requested a continuance. Failure to appear may result in a default judgment against you.

Given the short notice, you should document your request for a continuance in writing and bring it with you to court. Be prepared to explain your reasons for needing more time.

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