What if I cannot afford to hire a lawyer?

If you are charged with a traffic or criminal offense for which the penalty may include incarceration, and if your assets and income are not sufficient for the court to believe you can hire your own attorney, you can request that an attorney be appointed to represent you. Even if your offense does not carry possible incarceration as a penalty, you may want to consult with an attorney to make sure you know the best possible way to proceed. Always remember that since you’re 18, your conviction now establishes an adult criminal record, which, among other things, removes your right to vote if it is a felony. If you only have misdemeanor convictions, you can still vote. Other rights may be impacted.

It is important to understand that even if you are tried and convicted without being represented by an attorney, the conviction can be used against you for the rest of your adult life in several ways. The conviction can be used for enhanced punishment in the future, may impair your ability to obtain credit or loans, and may impact your marketability in the job force. Your right to bear arms also may be revoked.