In Texas, court-appointed lawyers aren’t always free

So imagine this: You are charged with a crime and brought into a court The court finds that you are too poor to be able to afford to hire a lawyer, so they appoint you one

Now, fast-forward a few weeks, months or years, and all of a sudden, you get a bill for the cost of that lawyer And sometimes that bill reaches thousands of dollars So this is a practice called recoupment, and it's not unique to Texas It happens in jurisdictions across the country And in it, defendants that are at one point deemed too poor to be able to hire an attorney are later asked to repay part or all of the costs of the lawyer appointed to them by the court

Proponents of this kind of practice call it sound public policy That even if at the outset of your case you might not be able to afford to hire an attorney, if your financial status changes later on, or they find that you can pay back some of the costs of the court-appointed attorney, it's fair and just to ask you to do that Opponents say that at its most extreme it can amount to a shakedown of poor people and that it could cause people to waive their constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer if they think there's a bill coming down the pipe There was a new law that went into effect in September, Senate Bill 527, and it was authored by Sen Brian Birdwell

It essentially extends the period during which recoupment can happen He said that it takes into account the fact that a defendant's financial status can change over time So even if they might be deemed indigent at the outset of their case, that status can change And he also said that this this law simply gives judges discretion to recognize any changes in a defendant's financial status And so it protects defendants and taxpayers at the same time

Source: Youtube

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