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Court appointed counsel timeline

Being arrested is a stressful and confusing experience and you will need to wait for appointed counsel if you’re eligible. One of the most pressing questions you might have is, “When can I meet with my lawyer?” Understanding your rights and the legal timeline for meeting your attorney is crucial. This blog post will help clarify the process and what you can expect after an arrest.

Understanding the Legal Timeline

Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 1.051(c), there are specific guidelines regarding when you must be appointed an attorney. The timeline can vary depending on a few key factors:

  • Judicial Proceedings Start: Your right to an attorney kicks in once judicial proceedings have begun.
  • Indigency Determination: The court must determine whether you are indigent, meaning you can’t afford to hire a private attorney.
  • Request for a Court-Appointed Attorney: You need to formally request a court-appointed attorney to trigger the timeline.

County Population Size Matters

The Texas Code also specifies different timelines based on the population size of the county where the court sits:

Counties with a Population of 250,000 or More:

If the Texas county has a population of at least 250,000 residents, the appointment of an attorney must occur by the end of the first working day after the court has determined you are indigent and you have requested a court-appointed attorney.

Counties with Smaller Populations:

In Texas counties with populations less than 250,000 residents, the court has up to three working days to appoint an attorney after meeting all the necessary conditions.

What to Do While You Wait

While waiting to meet with your attorney, here are some steps you can take to prepare:

  • Remain Calm and Cooperative: Understand that the legal process takes time, and remaining calm can help you manage this stressful period.
  • Gather Information: Write down any details about your arrest, including the names of the officers involved and any witnesses.
  • Avoid Self-Incrimination: Be mindful of what you say, as anything you say can be used against you in court.
  • Don’t Talk to ANYONE about Your Case: Only discuss your case with an attorney. Anything you say to anyone other than your attorney about your case can and will be used against you.

Knowing when you can meet your lawyer after an arrest can provide some peace of mind during a challenging time.

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