When you face criminal charges in the Georgia legal system, you have the right to an attorney given to you by the U.S. Constitution. It helps make the legal system fair and ensures that you get a proper defense against charges. However, many people do not understand this right or what it means.
Cornell Law School explains that you get the right to an attorney only in a criminal trial situation. However, you only have this right when facing felony charges at the state level. For federal charges of any kind, you have the right to an attorney. The judge will inform you of this right and ask you if you have an attorney.
You do not automatically have the right to a free or court-appointed attorney. This is a privilege you get if you cannot afford to pay for your own attorney. You must pass a means test that shows you cannot pay for legal services on your own. The court will then appoint a public defender or another lawyer who will work pro bono, which means without pay.
The right to an attorney also means that you should get an attorney who is effective and will fight for your case. Your attorney will honor professional and ethical standards when working on your case. These are fundamental standards for representation. In general, you will get more attention to your case if you pay for your attorney versus going through the court to get an appointed attorney.
The right to legal representation allows you to properly defend against any criminal charges. If you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer, the court may appoint one to take your case for free. In any instance, you have the right to get someone to represent you who knows the law and can help you navigate your case and the system.