We have a thing called Legal Aid in our state. If you're below 125% of the poverty level, they get you an attorney. For criminal charges, there's the public defender's office (not bad here actually) which often means some sort of plea deal.
But if you're not, but just don't have the money for an attorney, then you're screwed. In some cases, showing up with an attorney can also leave you screwed, because having the money to pay an attorney means that you obviously have the money to pay, even if you actually don't. And then there's the money that you used on the attorney that could have been used to pay.
See, this is my problem with the whole thing. The legal system is supposed to be for the good of all. But like so many things in the US, it's for the good of all, as long as you have money. In my case, the only reason that I didn't end up in prison... even though, according to the laws of the land, it couldn't end up in prison as that would be debtor's prison and is outlawed, is because the assistant thought... this guy came in here with the best of intentions, had a plan, and is trying. So, he should be rewarded for that as many people who come in there under those circumstances don't.
And as far as the deal? It was on the other side, from the other party, who was able to get legal aid, and thus was able to get them to create a bargain behind the scenes before the farce of a trial played out. Before legal aid entered the picture... it was cut and dried. In fact, the judge seemed inclined to rule in my favor. But me, having a very ... punishable ... sense of justice tried to do the right thing. And so, they figured that they needed legal aid.Let the circus begin.
There's just something wrong with that, no matter how much we say that "it's complicated." Our Justice system is in love with the system rather than with justice. And in many cases, our legal systems are anything but. It shouldn't have to be this complicated, IMO.