At the first court appearance (arraignment) when given a copy of the charges—or when questioned in police custody before arrest or charges are brought—a person may request representation by an attorney. At the arraignment or first appearance, persons out of custody will be referred to our office and given a date to return to court with an attorney. Persons in custody will be given a court date and will be visited at the jail by staff from the Department before the next court date. During the initial client interview, a paralegal, law clerk or attorney will:
- determine financial eligibility
- discuss confidentially the client's background
- explain the overall procedure
- discuss the specifics of the client's case
The interviewing attorney and the attorney at the next court date will rarely be the attorney who is assigned to the case for logistical reasons, as well as because of the need to bring to bear specialized knowledge of various areas of law.