The right to effective judicial protection is a fundamental right of citizens, so the law must make it possible for everyone to have access to justice. For this reason, those who do not have sufficient economic resources can apply for the benefit of legal aid, through a court-appointed lawyer. This right is only granted if legal proceedings are necessary.
Financial requirements for requesting a public defender
All citizens of the State, nationals and residents, have the right to apply for free justice, as well as managing entities and common services of the Social Security, and other associations and foundations that meet certain conditions.
In order to have access to legal aid, it is necessary to prove an income that does not exceed officially assessed thresholds, taking into account the number of members of the family unit and their overall income. The amount will vary according to different factors, such as whether the family is a bi-parental or single-parent family, whether or not they own real estate, etc. But economic conditions are not the only factor taken into account in order to be able to exercise this right.
Is a court-appointed lawyer charged?
Public defenders are not always free of charge, since the legal aid law itself establishes that in the case of obtaining an economic benefit for the client, it will be able to invoice their fees up to a limit of one third of the amount obtained. Therefore, in practice it could happen that the cost of a court-appointed lawyer is higher than that of a private lawyer (with whom a starting fee will have been fixed). It may also happen that the person applying for legal aid is not finally granted the right, in which case the public defender will deduct his or her fees.
If you receive a summons (defendant or defendant) or if you need to file a complaint (plaintiff or complainant), the first thing to do is to go to a lawyer for advice. People who do not have sufficient financial resources may choose to go to their local Legal Advice Service and, if they meet the necessary requirements, a court-appointed lawyer will be appointed. There are situations that require immediate action and it is advisable to receive appropriate advice. Well, despite being right in a case, if we miss the deadline to claim or defend ourselves, we will hardly be given the reason.
It is also important to go to a lawyer who is a specialist in the matter in question, otherwise there is a risk of receiving bad advice.
In order for a lawyer to be part of this service, he or she must fulfil a series of requirements:
To have an open office in the area of action.
Have a minimum of at least three years’ experience in their speciality.
Have completed and passed a series of courses.
Not to incur in incompatibilities that prevent acting as a public defender.
To be a registered lawyer and to be up to date with the payment of fees.
Not be disqualified or have any sanction or limitation that prevents you from practicing.