We know being your own lawyer seems like an overwhelming task and that you have a lot of questions. The SOS team has tried to answer the most common questions here. If you don’t not see your question here or you think their is a question you want added to this list please e-mail us here.
When am I entitled to a lawyer?
If there are any criminal charges against you where you can potentially face time in jail you are automatically entitled to a lawyer whether you can afford one or not. In ALL OTHER circumstances if you cannot afford a lawyer you will have to represent yourself this is called acting “pro se.” If you are representing yourself please contact us immediately for help. While we’re building our programs we still have numerous resources for you.
Don’t the TV shows say if you can’t afford a lawyer one will be appointed for you? Why don’t I get a lawyer?
Unfortunately the Constitution only guarantees a lawyer to a person facing criminal charges with the possibility of jail time. So far there is not any laws on the books to provide legal counsel for victims of abuse. While SOS is looking to change this or at least facilitate finding attorneys to represent victims of abuse pro bono (free) right now there is no requirement that victims get representation.
Isn’t the prosecutor my lawyer?
No. While the prosecutor’s job is to advocate for justice and enforce the laws their goals do not always line up with the goals of a victim and they do not actually represent you. Prosecutors look to protect the “greater good” which makes it entirely plausible that your needs and wants will get lost in the shuffle. If you are pressing charges or your attacker is being prosecuted please contact us, visit our resources page or stop by one of our clinics. Can I just have a friend represent me? Not unless that friend is licensed to practice law. As the law stands right now you can always represent yourself however only a licensed attorney can represent you.