You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you.
So goes the the Miranda rights spiel heard on 1,000 cop shows. But in many parts of the U.S., it's not quite true. Those who cannot Afford a lawyer are left waiting for months to meet with public defenders already buried under other cases.
After Shondel Church was arrested for felony theft in 2016, the Missouri public defender service told him his case was winnable, but he would have to sit in jail six months before an Attorney could prepare it. After waiting three months without a job and away from his family, Church took a plea deal. Now he's the lead plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit filed in March by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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