When you get into trouble with the law, you have the right to get a criminal attorney. Not only do you have the right to have a criminal attorney, you really have a need for one. However, you may not be able to afford one. When that happens, what are you supposed to do?
The public defender is usually a lawyer hired by the city or state for you. Some areas have a public defender office, so there are lawyers that are already on call and can appear in your case. Other areas have a list of defense lawyers that can be hired to be public defenders. There are also areas that use both options. The defense lawyers that can be hired out from local firms are often used for the more severe cases, such as murder cases or capital cases.
You can have a public defender appear for your arraignment or bail hearing, and then switch to another option. There are a few other options out there for you to try.
In some states law students can practice law as long as they are supervised by a licensed and accredited lawyer. Generally, in those states where this is a law, the students have to be sufficiently advanced in their training. For example, a first-year student may not be allowed to do represent you, but a third-year student would be.
Every state has a bar association. In order to be licensed to practice law in your state, the lawyer must have passed the bar exam and be licensed by the state. You can call the local bar association to see if they have a list of lawyers who will work for a reduced fee, on a sliding scale, or on a pro bono basis, which would mean free.
Call Local Firms
Many local firms, especially brand new firms or larger firms, may have lawyers who are willing to work on a reduced fee schedule. New lawyers will do it so that they can get their names out into the public and as a way to get more potential clients. Sometimes larger firms will dedicate lawyers, especially young lawyers, to work on reduced fee cases.
Having a hard time hiring a criminal defense lawyer doesn't mean that you can't get a lawyer to represent you. You can use the public defender, but there are other options that are available to you.