Q: How do I get a Public Defender?
A: Attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office can only represent indigent people charged with criminal offenses (felony, misdemeanor, criminal traffic, juvenile delinquency, or criminal contempt) or people held under the Baker Act or Sexually Violent Predator Act.
An attorney from the Public Defender’s Office cannot represent you until the Clerk or the judge appoints our office to your case.
Defendants must apply and qualify for the Public Defender’s services.
Visit the Clerk of the Court to get an "Application for Indigent Status and Appointment of the Public Defender."
Completely fill out the application, providing information about income, debts, any owned property, etc.
The Clerk will review the application and determine whether you qualify for the Public Defender.
Defendants whose income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, or who are unable to pay for the services of a private attorney without substantial hardship to his family, qualify for the services of the Public Defender.
Click Here to see the 2012 Poverty Guidelines (http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/12poverty.shtml).
All clients completing an Application for Appointment of the Public Defender must pay a $50 application fee.
If the fee has not been paid before you are sentenced, it will be imposed as a condition of your sentence.
Very often in our county, assistant public defenders will not be appointed to represent defendants charged with a misdemeanor who are not facing jail time.
If the Clerk finds that you do not qualify for the Public Defender, you can ask the judge to reconsider that decision at your next court date.