Related: In a civil infraction case, does the defendant have to turn over evidence to the prosecution beforehand?

Simple parking ticket dispute. The defendant has been put through an unreasonable amount of trouble. (Appealed through online system and confirmed in email, but the court lost the record. Had to make repeated requests in person for the case to be put in the system. Repeated requests for an interpreter, also confirmed by the court. However, when the defendant showed up, there was no interpreter and the judge reset the court date, multiple times. The prosecutors insisted on talking to the defendant prior to the trial and attacked the defendant with insults.)

Having done my homework, I am not sure: all I have found is that representation by a public defender is a possibility in criminal cases but not civil infraction. But in view of all this, because the defendant doesn't have the means to hire an attorney, is it possible for the defendant to ask the judge for a public defender so that they will not be harassed by the prosecution any more and that unnecessary clerical errors will hopefully reduce?

2 Answers 2


You can call the public defender's office and ask for advise on the matter. They have phones for that purpose (among others). However, if the defendant accepts the invitation of the prosecutor or law enforcement to chat or agrees to the Prosecutor's request without understanding what he's agreeing too, that's not the failure of the process. You have a right to remain silent... but the prosecution has a right to keep on asking you questions and offering you deals anyway.

His attempts to get you to talk are not violations of your rights, cause you can always just shut up and you do not have to agree to any of his terms. There may be a problem with the stuff discussed prior to the courts assigning a translator, but once that is on the table, it's on the defendant if he/she wants to talk to the Prosecutor without the translator and again the word "No" means the same thing in 5 different languages.

  • Well I recall a lawyer's vlog discussing a Supreme Court case where "no" is not enough of an invocation of one's 5th Amendment right. Also according to what I heard about this case at issue, the prosecutors actually claimed the defendant didn't have the right to remain silent, because it was not a criminal case, which I thought might hold water.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 16, 2020 at 18:13
  • @EddieKal: Of course the Prosecutor is going to claim that. He's allowed to investigate his case and lie to you to get what he wants during that investigation. If in doubt, you can call his bluff, which will either force him to back down or go before the judge to get a court order compelling the defendant to talk to the prosecutor.
    – hszmv
    Jan 16, 2020 at 18:21

Most parts of the US have a legal aid group that helps indigent with matters that plague underprivileged. Some cities, for example, have legal aid attorneys that help folks who are having their homes repossessed by banks in a civil action called foreclosure, while others have groups that help immigrants with their visa procedures. Further, many attorneys will do pro-bono work without charging for their own time (although court fees and other fees may still apply).

Public defenders are slightly different, in that they are constitutionally-mandated legal assistance for indigent criminal defendants, although they often tend to work on some related matters as well, such as parent or child advocacy in parental rights cases.

However, parking tickets are civil infractions that don't carry the risk of prison time, so are not usually referred to public defenders. However, there might be a legal aid group that might help you out. A brief search for "legal aid georgia" shows several groups, and I recommend reaching out to the one that might be closest to you.

As a commenter noted, the fifth amendment right to be forced to testify against yourself only applies to criminal matters. This is confusing, because testimony in civil matters can lead to criminal matters, which is why you are definitely allowed to refuse to testify, but you have to affirmatively that constitutional right. You can't just ignore the prosecutor and assume that she or he will respect that right.

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