Free legal service

If you need a lawyer and don’t believe you can afford one, don’t give up. Free legal services are more readily available than people think.

For example, if you have been arrested for a crime, you were given your Miranda rights by the police. Within those rights is the promise that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Normally, that attorney will come from your local Public Defender’s office when you have been formally charged. You have a constitutional right to an attorney who provides free legal service to represent you in a criminal case if you cannot afford to pay.

If you need free legal service for something other than a criminal case, check out the US Department of Justice listing of free providers, organized by state. There you will find attorneys who provide free legal services, but there are restrictions. For instance, most attorneys will only provide free legal services within a geographic area. Others will only take on certain kinds of cases. Many will require that you are at a certain low income level. Some may not offer services to aliens seeking asylum in the US.

Some attorneys who offer free legal services make their careers in serving the poor, like the Neighborhood Legal Services Association in southwest Pennsylvania. They practice poverty law and, “each year over 26,000 women, children and the elderly ask for our help with dire legal problems such ?as protection from abuse, wrongful eviction, wage claims, child custody disputes, loss of food stamps? and denial of public benefits.”

Other attorneys will offer free legal service if you present them with an interesting case of an injustice being done. These attorneys will take your case on a pro bono (no fee) arrangement. Cases like these may involve sexual harassment, human trafficking, environmental issues, freedom of speech and other high profile issues.

Another form of free legal service comes from injury lawyers, who will agree to take your case without any upfront fee. If they win your case in court, their fees will be a significant percentage of any award, plus you will pay the expenses associated with going to court and preparing your case out of that award. Generally, if these lawyers lose the case, you owe nothing. You will not have to look hard to find these attorneys: they advertise on radio and TV.

Your community probably also offers free legal services through Legal Aid, a service provided to low income people and funded by the government.

So you see, free legal service is available. You just need to know where to look.

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