Most Americans know that if they are charged with a crime and can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them. But there's no such guarantee if a husband beats his wife and freezes her accounts, or a bank forecloses on veteran returning home from duty in Afghanistan.
When low-income people find themselves in a situation requiring a lawyer, they rely on non-profit legal aid groups to defend them. In Texas, more than 5.7 million people qualify for legal aid based on their income. But the Texas Access to Justice Foundation says state only has enough money to help about 100,000 people a year.
And funding for legal aid is running out. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are trying to find ways to keep the program going.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.