The Risks With Public DefendersDo Not Qualify for Legal Aid in New York?
In New York, thousands of people every day need criminal attorneys. Most people do not realize that the state of New York only guarantees a criminal attorney for the poor and/or homeless. The government defines the official poverty line, which often bears no resemblance to the actual cost of living in New York or the city. To qualify for Medicaid and Food Stamps, a person must be below the “poverty line” of $13,000/year for a single person or $25,800 for a four-person family (2012 data). Likewise, a person only qualifies for Legal Aid and other public defenders in New York City if he makes less than 125% (roughly) of the poverty line. This may seem ridiculous in the most expensive city in America, but it is the reality of the criminal justice system.
I wrote this article
about public defenders in New York last year, which I stand by. This page will continue to be updated with other useful facts about the benefits and drawbacks of public defenders and private attorneys.
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