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At your arraignment, the judge will ask you whether or not you can afford to hire your own attorney. If you answer no, the judge will refer you to the Public Defender's Office at Room 139, Marin Hall of Justice, 3510 Civic Center, San Rafael, CA 94903. An attorney from our office will conduct a financial evaluation, and if you qualify, the court will appoint us to represent you.
No. Once you are represented by any attorney, either appointed or retained, the public defender will not speak with you absent that attorney's permission.
Our office can provide general information regarding the court process. The specifics of your case cannot be discussed until we are appointed.
Generally speaking, no. If you are being sued, have immigration problems, are being evicted, have a worker's compensation claim, etc., you may qualify for assistance from other agencies.
First, if you can afford to hire an attorney, you do not qualify for the services of the public defender and should hire your own lawyer. The Public Defender's Office only represents people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. If you really can't afford to hire an attorney but are thinking about begging the family to hock the farm to do so, consider the following:
Public defenders have long suffered from a public perception as second rate lawyers who couldn't get a "real" job and had to "settle" for working for starvation wages as a public defender. We also suffer from the belief by some that we don't really work hard for our clients. These are wholly untrue stereotypes.
The attorneys who chose to work as public defenders are some of the brightest, best educated, and most dedicated lawyers there are. The Marin County Public Defender's Office is made up of people who want to practice nothing but criminal law. They don't do divorces or car accident cases or write wills. While almost all of them could earn more money if that was the most important thing to them, they still get paid pretty well. The salary range is commensurate with the District Attorney's office. The majority of our lawyers never wanted to practice any kind of law other than what they are doing and have dedicated their careers to criminal defense work and being public defenders because they believe in what they do and like doing it.
Because our lawyers don't have to worry about anything but representing their clients, they generally do it very well. They are in court nearly every day. They know all the "ins and outs" of the courts in which they practice. They also try more jury trials in a year than most lawyers try in a life time. Our misdemeanor lawyers average about 10 jury trials a year; our felony lawyers average about 5. They also know what a case is worth in a settlement. About 95% of all criminal cases settle before trial. Public defenders like trying cases; they don't have to be concerned with the financial implications that going to trial may involve for a retained attorney and his or her client. So, if your public defender lawyer recommends a plea bargain, it is because he or she honestly believes it is in the clients best interest to settle the case, not because financial concerns require it. Public defenders also have the benefit of outstanding in-house support services including a professional investigative staff, paralegal and clerical staff, interns and law clerks, as well as the shared knowledge and experience of the many other lawyers in the office.
A defense lawyer's belief in a client's guilt or innocence is totally irrelevant. That determination is the job of the judge or jury under our adversarial system of justice. Every person charged by the government is entitled to zealous representation, something that may not seem important to some people until someone from their family is charged with a crime. Additionally, our job is every bit as much making sure that the Government doesn't over charge or over punish a guilty client as it is to see that it doesn't convict an innocent one. We believe that criminal defense lawyers are really constitutional defense lawyers; we are the last line of defense between the individual rights and liberty of all citizens and the often misguided, overzealous exercise of untold power by our government. If it weren't for criminal defense attorneys tirelessly challenging the power of the government to intrude into individuals' lives, no one would be safe from unreasonable government intrusion.
You can use Online Warrant Search application or
Contact the Records or Warrants divisions of the Marin County Sheriff's Department.
If you are currently represented by an attorney inform him or her immediately. The attorney can place you on the court's calendar to clear it up. If you were represented by our office, call the attorney that previously handled your case.
There are several possibilities once you appear in court. You can usually resolve the matter that day if it is a minor one. You can also set the matter for further court proceedings. The court will then recall the warrant, set future dates, and either release you on your "own recognizance" or set bail. If bail is set you will remain in custody until a bond is posted.
For more information, review the Expungement Process.
Police Officers have the discretion in all cases, whether serious or minor, to either release you to your parents or to take you to Juvenile Hall.
If you are in custody or if you feel that you are not free to leave the presence of the police officer and if s/he wants to ask questions about the alleged crime, you have the right to have an attorney or your parent present. Even if you do not know any lawyers, you can ask to have a lawyer present and the Public Defender will be made available to you. You should always ask to have an attorney or your parent present when you are being asked questions about an alleged crime.
Before you appear in court, you will meet with a lawyer who has been assigned to represent you. This lawyer's job is to get the result that YOU want for your case. Occasionally parents and children have different goals, but the lawyer is working for you, not your parents, and YOU will determine the course of your case in consultation with your lawyer.
Yes. If you go to court and the Judge finds that you violated any law regarding illegal drugs, alcohol, graffiti, vandalism, truancy or prostitution the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to revoke your driver's license for one year. If you do not yet have a license, the DMV will delay your ability to get a license for one year.