Making Bail Does Not Always Mean You Can Afford a Lawyer
A lot of people say you cannot get a public defender if you post bail bond in Tulsa. There is some truth to the claim, but it is simply not the case that Oklahoma courts may not let someone have a public defender if the person bonded out of jail.
The idea that posting Tulsa bail bond ruins your chance of getting a public defender is based in Oklahoma statutes. It’s kind of like the law puts a thumb on the scale when it comes to bail bond and public defenders. The law says a person who can make bail is presumed to have enough money for an attorney – unless they can otherwise show they cannot afford an attorney.
A person who posts a Tulsa bail bond then asks for a court appointed attorney must provide the court a statement saying at least three attorneys declined to represent them. Along with that statement, the person must file what is called a Pauper’s Affidavit.
The form, described in Oklahoma statutes at Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § Form 13.3, asks about a person’s assets, income, debts and family resources. It also asks, if the person posted bond, who paid for the bail bond.
The court considers whether a person is entitled to a court appointed attorney based on information in the form and guidelines established in Oklahoma appeals court cases. Those guidelines include whether the person was able and willing to post bond, whether they have assets that could be sold or used as collateral, their debts, their earning capacity, their financial history and whether any family members are able and willing to help with attorney costs.
I cannot tell you what a court will decide in any particular case, or for that matter what courts generally decide when a person has posted bond then asks for a public defender. Many people would rather scrape together enough money for a private lawyer than take their chances with a public defender. It is something to consider if the only reason not to make bail in Tulsa is so you can maybe get a court appointed lawyer.
After all, sitting in jail is no guarantee you will get a public defender. You have to file an accurate financial statement. If you lie on that statement, you can be charged with a crime. If you have enough resources for an attorney, the court might refuse you a court-appointed attorney, even though you did not post bail.
When at least three lawyers decline to represent you because you cannot afford to pay, the court is required to consider that along with other circumstances. Even if you get a public defender, a court can order you to pay back the costs of the court-appointed attorney later when you have money available.
One thing I found interesting is that courts cannot just presume you can afford a lawyer because you posted bond. They have to ask you about your ability to pay. In a couple of cases, Oklahoma courts have tossed out decisions of a lower court where a defendant made bail and was refused a public defender without being asked about their ability to pay.
If you have questions about whether you should post bail for a friend or loved one, contact me. There are often ways a person can afford a Tulsa bail bond and afford an attorney. Call me at 918-932-2888.