How Can I Get a Public Defender?
Posted 12/22/2013 by Mark Miclette
If you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have one appointed for you. This attorney is usually called a public defender. You need to tell the judge in court that you need an attorney appointed to you. Each county has its own method for how it assigns public defenders. In some counties, the judge will appoint one right in the courtroom. In others, you will be given a new court date and told to report to the Public Defender's office prior to that appearance. In all cases, before you can be represented, you will have to provide information that includes the following information.
Personal data: Your legal name, address and phone number are needed to enter you into the computer and assign you to a public defender. Take care to fill these questions out carefully, so if they need to get in touch with you, they have a way to do so. Judges do not take kindly to defendants telling them that they missed a court date or other important issues because their public defender did not have correct and up-to-date contact information.
Financial Information: This means all sources of income and expenses. Most forms request information about housing costs, child support, daycare, utilities and other living expenses. Items such as club memberships, hair appointments and golf fees are not considered in this equation and in fact may lead the court to believe you can afford a private attorney. Your income from all jobs or other sources will be calculated against your expenses to see if you qualify for a public defender. The judge might give you one free of charge, or you may have to pay a co-pay to be represented. It will depend upon your income, expenses and the guidelines in your county. Bring paycheck stubs, bank statements and proof of other income with you in case it is required.
Once you give them the information, it will be decided whether you qualify for a public defender. If so, you will be given your specific Public Defender's name and contact number and that attorney will represent you for this case.