The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts made it harder for individuals who need court-appointed legal representation to get it in two separate decisions that came down yesterday. The Court ruled that "a criminal defendant who seeks to have counsel appointed at public expense bears the burden of proving indigency by a preponderance of the evidence." Commonwealth v. Porter. In evaluating the individual's income and ability to pay, the Court will consider the spouse's (or live-in significant other's) income and assets. If a parent is substantially supporting the individual seeking assigned counsel, that parent's financial situation shall be considered as well in making an indigency determination.. Commonwealth v. Fico. Be prepared to show documentation regarding the bills and expenses that you have, whether or not the other individuals in your household are willing and able to contribute to your legal defense funds, and the value and ease of liquidity of any property that you may own.
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