By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What does “if you can’t afford an attorney” one will be provided for you really mean?

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A Florida police sting last month netted 22 arrests for alleged drug involvement, including the arrest of a public defender. Wonder who’s going to defend him? Maybe not the public defenders’ office.

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If you’ve gone to law school – or the equivalent, watched enough crime dramas on TV – you know that if you’re in custody or charged with a crime, you have the right to an attorney and if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be afforded to you. But what does that really mean?

Lawyers are expensive, so who can really afford one? And who determines if you can’t? The answer is different depending on your state, but in virtually every state you have to fill out an affidavit of financial status.

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In 2014, federal guidelines say the poverty level is $11,670 for an individual; a family of four earning less than $23,850 is below the poverty level. In most states, you can’t earn more than 125% of the federal poverty measure which may mean that the arrested public defender may make too much money to defend himself.