By criminal defense attorney Nick Alcock
Indigent (or poor) defendants are entitled to free or almost free legal representation so long as there is good cause to believe that the defendant is truly indigent and there is a real chance that the defendant is facing jail time. If a person asks, they can ask the court for a delay so that they can hire an attorney. Usually a court will give a person two to four weeks to obtain the services of a private attorney.
The public defender’s office is one of many organizations that provide free legal services. There are also private criminal attorneys who work on a contract basis. In general, I believe the criminal lawyers who provide indigent services are hard-working and effective. Once a public defender is assigned, a defendant always has the right to hire a private criminal attorney later. However, if the case gets too old, then it may be difficult for another lawyer to take over.