Appointment of the Public Defender

All persons charged with a crime who face jail time are entitled to representation by an attorney. The Public Defender represents people who cannot afford their own lawyer—commonly referred to as being indigent. The court is allowed to appoint the Public Defender to represent a person who has income that is equal to or less than 200% of the current federal poverty guidelines, or who is unable to pay for the services of a private attorney without substantial hardship to his family.

In misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases, the court often does not appoint the Public Defender to represent you even if you are indigent. If the court files an “order of no imprisonment” in your misdemeanor or criminal traffic case, it does not have to appoint the Public Defender. This means that if you cannot pay for your own lawyer, you will not have an attorney representing you.

Under limited circumstances, the Public Defender can assist you on a limited basis prior to being appointed by the court. This occurs if you have been arrested, are in custody, and you have not been able to retain an attorney.