In Waco, Checking on Defendants' Claims of Poverty

WACO — In recent months, criminal defendants requesting a court-appointed lawyer in McLennan County have occasionally received something very different: a visit from a detective.

Last November, the county assigned sheriff’s detective Eric Carrizales to investigate whether defendants requesting a lawyer are really as poor as they say they are. Local officials have praised the unusual idea as a way to save the county money by rooting out false claims by people who can afford to hire a private attorney. But the scheme has drawn criticism from criminal defense advocates, who warn that low-income defendants are being intimidated into waiving ...

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