What Is an Affidavit of Indigency?

An affidavit of indigency is the name of a formal document filed by a requester, usually the defendant in a criminal court case, stating his inability to pay a fee associated with his case because he is unable to pay. Indigent people are called so for having little or no income.

Legal Grounds

Such an affidavit can be filed to request free legal counsel or that a required fee, e.g., the court filing fee in cases like drug possession charges, be waived. This form and principle has its roots in the Sixth Amendment that states an accused defendant has a right to representation.


The standards for approving a claim of indigency differ according to state, local and administrative rules. Income after taxes, including all government assistance, is the main deciding factor. The amount of income is compared with the amount the defendant needs to spend on basic necessities for herself and her dependents.


The defendant can request on the affidavit to receive copies of recordings of the trial and written transcripts for appeal cases if he is not already being represented by a public defender. If he has paid for his own representation, he may ask for these and bonds to have an appeal hearing through an affidavit of indigency.

Incarcerated Applicants

Sometimes an already incarcerated defendant wants to have a trial about something that happened since she was arrested. In some areas, she can use the affidavit to request a hearing and to have the associated fees waived.

Indigent Benefits

Additional, related federal and state benefits may apply to indigent people accused of a crime.

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