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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    91

    Default How to Request a Public Defender

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Virginia

    I was under the assumption that due to my states law regarding muzzleloaders and non violent felons that I was able to own one as an individual who has been involuntarily committed.

    2 weeks ago I got a visit from local police asking if I had any firearms. I told him I had a muzzleloader and gave it to him upon request. I signed an exchange of custody form as well.

    A few hours ago he returned stating the prosecutors office considers it a firearm which I am barred from owning and gave me paperwork to sign for a court date - Class 1 Misdemeanor.

    I donít have the resources for a private lawyer, how exactly do I go about obtaining one. Do I go through my local courthouse or do I request one at trial?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    You aren’t going to trial yet. Your first appearance is likely to be an arraignment where they read the charges and request a plea from you. At that time you plead not guilty and request the services of s public defender.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Sorry, JK. A misdemeanor charge in Virginia is NOT handled that way. His initial appearance will be scheduled in General District Court will be the trial itself (what they call the adjudicatory hearing). At that point, he should request a public defender. He'll be shunted aside to fill out the forms to determine if he qualifies. If he does, the case will immediately be continued so that he may be assigned one and the attorney given time to prepare. If he doesn't qualify, the judge will advise him he really should have one and offer an opportunity for a continuance to obtain one.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    Sorry, JK. A misdemeanor charge in Virginia is NOT handled that way. His initial appearance will be scheduled in General District Court will be the trial itself (what they call the adjudicatory hearing). At that point, he should request a public defender. He'll be shunted aside to fill out the forms to determine if he qualifies. If he does, the case will immediately be continued so that he may be assigned one and the attorney given time to prepare. If he doesn't qualify, the judge will advise him he really should have one and offer an opportunity for a continuance to obtain one.
    Thanks for the correction.

    While I see some problems with such a process, (like due process), if that’s how you folks run the show, that’s how you run the show

  5. #5
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    No problem with due process. It's expeditious for all involved. GDCs are informal and generally can dispose of things quickly for traffic and misdemeanors, especially when there's a diversion of plea bargain. Most of that takes place at a preliminary hearing is done here but it's the actual trial and can be disposed of all in one sitting. For instance, in a PA case, even if you have a plea bargain going in, you have a minimum of THREE appearances (one at the magistrate level and two in Common Pleas).

    GDCs aren't courts of record, so you get a free de novo hearing in circuit court if you aren't happy with the results from GDC.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Go to the courthouse, criminal clerk's office, and ask for a form to petition for a court-appointed lawyer. Complete it and return it. Odds are you will need to sign it in front of a notary, but the clerk's office should be able to notarize it. The court will subsequently review the petition to determine if you qualify.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    91

    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Now will they be able to go through my finances? My main concern is I’m on SSDI and have made purchases not really considered as bare essentials. These items were purchased via PayPal credit and other credit cards and include a salt water fishing license, valve stem seals, a cylinder head and also tools needed to strip the block of head gasket material. My cars been sitting with a blown head gasket since Dec and since I’m unemployed I like to tinker with it and go fishing/plinking outdoors to keep from getting cabin fever.

    If they can get these records is there any chance they can be used against me via the SSA?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Don’t get freaked about the odd purchases and ssdi. The court is concerned about your income level and reserves available and likely outside sources such as family. Not in your state but I’ve seen people denied a public defender because of their family having adequate funds to hire a lawyer even though the defendant themselves was destitute. It was a matter of what finances they have available rather than what money the defendant themselves had.

    So fill out the form and go from there.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Had you obtained the subpoena? If not I’m not sure what your argument is.

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    No problem with due process. It's expeditious for all involved. GDCs are informal and generally can dispose of things quickly for traffic and misdemeanors, especially when there's a diversion of plea bargain. Most of that takes place at a preliminary hearing is done here but it's the actual trial and can be disposed of all in one sitting. For instance, in a PA case, even if you have a plea bargain going in, you have a minimum of THREE appearances (one at the magistrate level and two in Common Pleas).

    GDCs aren't courts of record, so you get a free de novo hearing in circuit court if you aren't happy with the results from GDC.
    There are all sorts of problems with a defendant walking into a court without prior rights of discovery and myriad other issues and facing a criminal charge. It’s nkt even clear to me that the defendant is certain of the specific charge he is facing upon first appearance.

    I believe the term kangaroo court would be applicable in such a situation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,901

    Default Re: How to Request a Public Defender

    Pretty obvious you may still be suffering from mental health issues. She's not only disinclined to teach you how to fill out the forms, she's almost certainly officially enjoined from offering you anything that could be construed as legal help. Again, it takes more than one additional traffic stop to obliterate the dash cam footage. If you were correct, it would be completely useless.

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    Had you obtained the subpoena? If not I’m not sure what your argument is.

    There are all sorts of problems with a defendant walking into a court without prior rights of discovery and myriad other issues and facing a criminal charge. It’s nkt even clear to me that the defendant is certain of the specific charge he is facing upon first appearance.

    I believe the term kangaroo court would be applicable in such a situation.
    Your characturization of General District Court is unfairly derrogatory. I'm not sure what difference you think there is in a formal arraignment than what happens in the adjudicatory hearing. The judges aren't going to let people plead guilty to misdemenaors or even proceed without counsel without getting them specifically to recognize what they are doing. What it does is save a lot of legal fees that happen on minor offenses in other states (one hearing that the attorney is involved with other than THREE or more).

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