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Bouldin Law Firm
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What If I Don't Like My Public Defender?

Throughout the United States one of the rights of an accused is the right to an attorney of your choosing; and if you cannot afford an attorney for one to be appointed for you. This is based on Miranda which used it as a right of all persons charged with crimes in the U.S. In Kentucky, that same right exists. But let's break this down further. You are entitled to have any attorney you choose, provided that you pay for that attorney. Many people cannot afford an attorney or cannot afford the attorney they want. For example, you might say that you want Elliot Ness or Perry Mason. Perry may be busy and Elliot may be out of your price range. Private attorneys can charge whatever fee they want for any type of case. It is up to the individual to find an attorney which they can afford. If the person cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint a public defender (PD), or more appropriately termed public advocate, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Court must first consider the nature of the offense, the general fee in the area for representation on this type of offense and if the defendant qualifies for appointment of a PD. The Defendant will generally have to fill out a financial disclosure statement so the court can determine if they have sufficient financial resources to hire their own attorney. In Northern Kentucky, the Court often will also assess a public defender fee to the Defendant. This money is paid to a general fund, however it is important to note that the Defendant will, in effect, pay for his lawyer even if he/she is appointed. If a Defendant is unhappy with any lawyer for any reason, the Defendant is free to hire a different attorney at any time. The Court may very well hold that attorney to previously established time frames to consider plea offers and/or stick to trial dates. It is generally a bad idea to hire a new attorney the day prior to a court trial. If the Defendant is appointed a PD and he is disappointed, the Defendant can request a different attorney be appointed. The Court alone will determine if there is a problem requiring a new attorney or if the attorney already appointed is providing an adequate defense. If you are a defendant, you should know your rights. If you can afford private counsel, make an appointment to discuss with an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are unhappy with your present attorney, contact another one to check your options. If you are in Northern Kentucky and wish to consult, contact Michael W. Bouldin at [email protected] or call 859-581-6453 (859-581-MIKE).

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