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You're Arrested. What Happens If You Can't Afford A Lawyer?


The Miranda warning guarantees your right as a citizen to an attorney and legal representation if you can't afford one. Does this court-appointed counsel work in the best interest of the accused? Experts from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and St. Mary's University's Center for Legal and Social Justice speak on "The Source." 

An "indigent" individual, in legal terms, cannot pay for a lawyer to defend his or her case in a court of law. Appointed attorneys then step in to defend those charged, impacting the fate of the accused.  

Texas relies on counties to structure and financially support their own public defense programs. But with underfunding and high case loads, what needs to change to improve the state's indigent defense system?
Bexar County costs for indigent defense totaled over $12.5 million in 2017, according to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission

If the county plans to beef up public defense, how much would it cost and who will pay for the changes? How does the magistration process work in Bexar County and what does quality legal representation look like? 


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

This interview aired on Tuesday, November 27. 

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Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.