Posts Tagged ‘crimes’

What is a court appointed attorney?

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

If you are charged with an offense that could possibly result in you being sent to jail, and you can’t afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed to represent you.

In order to qualify for an appointed attorney, you need to meet some low income guidelines.  If you don’t meet these guidelines, the court determines that you can afford to hire an attorney on your own, and you are not eligible to have an attorney appointed to represent you.

In some courts in this area, there is a public defender’s office that handles most of these cases.  In other courts, there is no public defender and so the court needs to find other attorneys that will accept the appointments.  There might also be a situation where there is a conflict in the public defender’s office, so sometimes the court needs to find another attorney to accept this particular appointment even though most of the time the public defender’s office is used.

Who pays for these attorneys?  The Commonwealth of Virginia, which means the taxpayers of Virginia.

But the attorney does not get paid at their ‘normal’ retained rate.   Instead, the court appointed attorney gets paid a very reduced rate.

The court does not just go out on the street to find the first attorney walking by.  All of the court appointed attorneys need to meet training standards to be allowed on the list in the first place, and they then need to continue to get additional training in order to remain on the list.

Most of the court appointed attorneys also handle privately retained clients, and they agree to take court appointed cases as a way of helping the community.

What does this mean to you?  If you happen to have a court appointed attorney, you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that your attorney is well qualified.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at