How do I get a public defender?

The primary responsibility of the Public Defender's Office is to ensure the representation of any person - whether in custody or not - who has been accused of a crime, but is currently unable to afford to hire private defense counsel. If you have been arrested and remain in custody, you will be brought to a local court usually within 48 hours of your arrest. If you are not in custody, you will be given a time and place to appear for your first court date. The first court date is called the arraignment. When you first appear in court for your arraignment, you may appear with private counsel.

If you are not able to hire a private attorney the judge will ask you if you intend to hire an attorney, or if you are requesting the Public Defender be appointed to represent you. The court will have you fill out a financial affidavit. You must do so completely and accurately. The court makes the primary determination of your eligibility for our services. If there is question as to whether or not you qualify, the court may require you to go to Collections and fill out additional paperwork. If the Public Defender's Office is appointed to represent you, you will be required to pay a $50 registration fee (adults). That fee is paid to the Collections Department, not the Public Defender's Office. Thereafter, you may be assessed additional fees based upon your ability to pay them.

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1. I think I have a warrant. What should I do?
2. When is my next court date?
3. Should I expect to be remanded into custody?
4. What should I expect at my first court appearance?
5. Can I speak to a public defender before my first appearance?
6. What happens if I'm in custody and the police want to talk to me or to place me in a lineup?
7. How do I get a public defender?
8. Are public defender's "real" lawyers?
9. Should I just hire a private lawyer?
10. How do I contact my public defender?
11. I like a certain attorney. Can I choose who is assigned to my case?
12. I don't like my current deputy public defender. Can I get a new one?
13. How can I expunge a conviction from my record?