If you are arrested and cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. It may sound as if you are impoverished, then you are entitled to a defense, gratis. That is not what that means. In fact, those who are represented by a public defender are required to pay back the costs of the defense. You might be thinking that it doesn’t make sense. If a person could not afford to hire a private attorney, how could they be expected to pay back the costs of services rendered after the fact?
Equity and Justice
Regarding this subject, some changes are on the horizon. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 355: Reimbursement for Court-Appointed Counsel into law, recently, The Los Angeles Sentinel reports. Which means that those represented by public defenders will only be required to reimburse for such services, if they are found guilty. Innocents are now exempt.
“Under current criminal law, a low-income, homeless or impoverished person who is accused of a crime that they did not commit can still be ordered to pay the costs of a court-appointed attorney,” said Sen. Holly J. Mitchell of Los Angeles, co-author of the bill. “We are pleased to have the governor support our #EquityAndJustice reforms. We are hopeful that he will continue to be a partner as the remaining #EquityAndJustice bills make their way to his desk.
“Together we can bring compassion, reason and greater social awareness about the true costs of a criminal justice system that for too long has followed policies that created and perpetuated a cradle-to-grave prison pipeline.”
Sen. Mitchell’s bill is one of a number of pending bills that fall under the California Equity and Justice reform package, according to the article. The other bills still pending in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, include:
- SB 180 (Drug Sentence Enhancements): a step toward ending wasteful incarceration spending involving certain nonviolent drug offenses.
- SB 190 (Ending Juvenile Fees): eliminates administrative fees for youth involved in the juvenile justice system and their families.
- SB 393 (Sealing of Arrest Records): seals arrest records of those arrested but not convicted.
- SB 394 (Juveniles Life Without the Possibility of Parole): juveniles cannot be sentenced to Life Without Parole.
- SB 395 (Miranda Rights for Youth): require those under the age of 18 to consult with legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights in interrogations with police.
Need Legal Assistance
Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you have been charged with a crime. For more than 30 years, attorney Brower has been successfully representing defendants in Southern California. He can provide you, or a loved one, with a solid legal defense.